What do Purple Carrots and Red Cabbage have in common? Anthocyanins.
Plants and animals have an almost infinite array of colors, shades, and hues!
Fruits and vegetables are no exception – they come in all sorts of simple and exotic colors.
Some crops, like Pomegranates for example, produce an extremely deep pigment that would leave a heavy stain on almost anything. It’s the same pigment that gives Red cabbage, Purple Kale, and Hibiscus their red/purple shade.
They’re called Anthocyanins.
Tone and Flavonoids
Anthocyanin-rich vegetables are immediately noticeable by their blue, red, or purple color. For example, there are several shades of Cauliflower: White, Yellow, Green, Purple, etc. Can you guess which version has the highest concentration of Anthocyanins? Hint: Think Pomegranate.
Not only does this pigment give certain vegetation a purple-ish hue, it also drastically affects flavor. If you’ve ever taste tested Green cabbage along-side Red cabbage, you’ll immediately notice the strong flavor of the pigmented vegetable.
Anthocyanins themselves are technically flavorless – but they typically cause vegetables to have a certain “bitter”-like taste.
Don’t let this defer you from colored produce though!
Anthocyanins don't just play a role in flavor, appearance, and aroma, they’re a powerful antioxidant on their own – with several studies backing its positive effect on animal cells.
In a recent scientific study, Red Cabbage (a major source of anthocyanins) was compared to Green Cabbage in studies testing the vegetable’s ability to affect cell lifespan.
“Our study demonstrated that RCJ rather than GCJ exhibited protected effects in bothoxidative stressed caco-2 cells and C. elegans andled to a life-prolonging effect under standard laboratory conditions. RCJ couldtarget multiple longevity mechanisms including Sirtuin signaling, HSF-1pathway, and CaMKII pathway.”
The full study can be found here:
When it comes to efficiently extracting beneficial compounds from anthocyanin-rich vegetables, nothing beats slowly masticated cold-pressed juice.
We're not overlooking teas / hot water extraction though, that's just a topic for another post.
Though your stomach really is the best juicer, properly extracted juices are proven to be an excellent source of nutrition.
Anthocyanin-rich juices (like red cabbage juice, blueberry juice, pomegranate juice, etc.) are literally teaming with antioxidants, and are best consumed shortly after being juiced.
Raw, cold-pressed juices are usually best consumed within the first few days of extraction.
Simple Anthocyanin-rich Juice Recipes:
- Pomegranate & Blueberry Juice
· 1 Whole Pomegranate
· 2 Cups of Blueberries
- Red Cabbage Juice
· ½ Red Cabbage
· 6-8 Celery Sticks
- Berry Juice
· 2 Cups Blueberries
· 2 Cups Blackberries
· 2 Cups Raspberries
Whichever recipe you choose, just make sure to fill your plate (or cup) with a variety of colors!
Purple Pigmented Fruits and Vegetables
There’s obviously an extremely wide variety of fruits /vegetables with these molecules.
For fruits, the list includes:
Blueberries, Blackberries, Red Raspberries, Black Grapes, Plums, Pomegranates, Cranberries, Cherries, Acai Berries, Elderberries and more.
All the fruits mentioned here are sure to leave a heavy stain on your cloths if you happen to spill any!
For vegetables, the list includes produce like:
Red Cabbage, Purple Kale, Purple Kohlrabi, Purple Cauliflower, Purple Potatoes, Red Radish, Purple Onions, Purple Leeks, and much much more.
Microgreens are a great way to consume anthocyanin-rich vegetables. Red Cabbage Microgreens are our personal favorites for getting in high concentrations of the pigment!
Resources: Anthocyanin studies on animal tissue: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4334289/