Anti-inflammatory Rainbow: Blue and Purple Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors

The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the blue and purple foods and how they benefit our health.

Anti-Inflammatory Blue and Purple Foods

Blue and Purple foods are notorious for protecting our brain cognition and memory. Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds are also prevalent in blue and purple foods. Blue and purple colored foods are helpful for reducing the negative effects of chronic stress. Purple is a fun anti-inflammatory phytonutrient food group because lots of traditional items like carrots, cauliflower, and potatoes purple varieties as well! These purple varieties tend to be higher in disease fighting compounds due to their hue. Blue and purple foods help improve the aesthetics of our meals by providing bright pops of colors on our plates. These foods are often have “black” in their name but they aren’t actually black! Think blackberries for example, they are really just a very deep shade of blue.

Blue and Purple Foods List:

blue and purple foods


Blue and purple foods provide us an array of hard to pronounce, but no less beneficial, phytonutrient compounds. Anthocyanidins,
hydroxystilbenes, procyanidins, pterostilbene, and the familiar resveratrol are all anti-inflammatory compounds found in blue and purple foods. Let’s review some of the specific benefits of these phytonutrients!


Found in blueberries and black grapes, this phytonutrient may help ward off cancer, keep cholesterol under control, and preserve brain function. Pteorstilbene found in blue and purple foods has been shown to have an anti-cancer effect by reducing the cell proliferation in breast cancer. The anti-oxidant activity in blueberries has been shown to be protective against atherosclerosis (plaque build up in arteries). Gastrointestinal cancers in the stomach, colon, and esophagus have been shown to have positive change related to high intakes of this phytonutrient as well. There are studies to support blue and purple foods for type 2 diabetes management as well due to pteorstilbene.  This anti-oxidant may also slow down neurodegeneration. You can read this wonderful review to learn more about the research discussed above. Don’t forget to add blueberries and black grapes to your grocery list this week!


Part of the flavanoid antioxidant family, these phytonutrients help strengthen capillaries and reduce blood pressure. They play a helpful role in maintaining healthy vascular function.  This anti-inflammatory compound can be found in red foods as well as the blue and purple foods listed above. The University of Michigan has some information here about procyanidins.


Red wine is the most familiar resveratrol containing food item. However, its also high in black grapes and blueberries. This phytonutrient has high anti-inflammatory properties and slows down the aging process. Resveratrol promotes a healthy heart and lungs and also helps manage types 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. There has been numerous studies on resveratrol and its health benefits. Additional benefits include reducing the risk of neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and potentionally extending lifespan.  Check out Oregon State University’s information on resveratrol here which contains links to over 100 research articles.

Tips for Increasing Blue and Purple Foods in Your Diet:

  • Add berries to… everything! Smoothies, cereals, yogurt, salads, desserts, etc.
  • Swap regular kale for purple kale
  • Use black rice, also known as forbidden rice, in stir-fry or casseroles
  • Shred purple cabbage and mix with leafy greens for salads
  • Try eggplant Parmesan for a healthy Italian meal
  • Replace regular potatoes with purple potatoes for a fun new hue

Recipes to Boost Blue and Purple Food consumption:

Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan from The Two Bite Club
Black Rice, Vegetable, and Egg Bowls from Nutrition Meets Chef
Triple Berry Kale Salad from The Recipe Critic (swap purple kale)
Roasted Purple Potatoes with lemon dijon thyme dressing from She Likes Food

How to Eat to Fight Inflammation

Just eating a few blue and purple foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of cheeseburgers and donuts isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. Eating a healthy meal of stir-fried edamame with purple cabbage and blackberries for dessert isn’t going to counter the effects of the meat lovers pizza you had the night before!  If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.

blue and purple foods

Anti-inflammatory Rainbow

I’ll be sharing information on red foods, orange foods, green foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.

What’s your favorite blue or purple food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!