Are you getting enough purple?

Purple traditionally symbolizes royalty; blue, trust. But in such foods as blueberries, plums, purple cabbage, black currants, eggplant and purple grapes, these hues represent a vision of good health. An analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES), a survey of eating and health habits, found that adults who eat purple and blue fruits and vegetables have reduced risk for both high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind); they are also less likely to be overweight. Scientists believe that anthocyanins, compounds that give purple foods their color, are responsible for these boons. These antioxidant compounds mop up free radicals and soothe inflammation. Currently, purple and blue foods make up only 3 percent of the average American's fruit and vegetable intake, so aim to eat more. And since different foods contain different anthocyanins, try to eat a range of purple and blue foods to benefit the most.

Start with dinner tonight and make:

Frosted Grapes: The perfect summertime dessert, these frozen grapes are healthy mini-popsicles. Try freezing other fresh fruit, like raspberries, peach wedges or cubes of watermelon.

Wash and pat dry 2 cups seedless purple grapes. Freeze 45 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes at room temperature before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Eggplant Panini: Grilled eggplant is one of life's simpler pleasures: creamy and rich. Look for medium-size, purple eggplants with firm skins and no mushy spots. This end-of-summer treat will be even tastier if you can find the vegetables at a local farmstand-or in your own backyard!

Rustic Berry Tart: The secret to this free-form tart is the layer of ground almonds under the berries: it thickens the juices, prevents a soggy crust and delivers an exquisite background flavor for the intense berries.

By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.

Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as an associate editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.

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