Taste the rainbow! Ever wonder where fruit and vegetables get their rich hues of purple, blue, and red? These pigments come from the flavonoids of anthocyanins.
The powerful flavonoids are found in blueberries, bilberries, purple cabbage, eggplant, cherries, blackberries, and black currants. The bright reds of strawberries, pomegranates, raspberries, cranberries, concord grapes and even red wine have significant amounts of these beneficial flavonoids.
Anthocyanin rich foods have been used throughout history by North American Indians, Europeans, and Chinese as herbal medicine. The dried leaves, fruits, roots, and seeds of these colorful wavelengths of the spectrum were used to treat the common cold, liver disorders, and vison and blood circulation.
You can make a simple apple cider based potato salad this summer or try Dijon Soup with Kale & Purple Potatoes. Purple potatoes have 4 times the antioxidants of white potatoes because of the rich anthocyanin content!
The role of anthocyanins in plants may be complementary to that of green chlorophyll during photosynthesis. This transformation of light energy acts as a sunscreen and is responsible for protecting the plant cells from high-light damage by absorbing blue-green and ultraviolet light. These findings are so significant that researchers are testing the sunscreen capabilities of strawberries in topical lotions.
These bright and rich hues may also be adaptive to act as a protective mechanism against animals that are attracted to green leaves when food is scares. Think of autumn leaves and broad-leaf evergreens that turn red during the winter. The flowers are adaptive to attract pollinators, while animals eat the colorful fruits and disperse the seeds.
Try finding these unique tinted shades, like bell peppers and “green beans” at your farmers market this summer!
Who knew there were so many real food choices from this nutritious spectrum!
Anthocyanin rich foods unique ability to absorb light energy has also caught the attention of organic solar cell technology. These carbon based solar cells are gaining traction as alternatives to more expensive silicon solar cells. Also referred to as dye-sensitized solar cells, the dyes of anthocanin rich black rice, blueberries, and strawberries have been used in protypes as photoactive material to produce energy.