When I'm cooking specifically for an Instagram photo, I have to admit that I choose my ingredients a little differently. For instance, I tend to pay more attention to the variety of colors and textures in the dish I'm making so that it doesn't just look like a pile of mush on camera. In my opinion, the brighter the colors, the better, because a striking purple potato (yes, it's a thing) is more likely to catch someone's eye than a standard white one. Besides being beautiful to look at, though, the health benefits of blue and purple foods are pretty legit, so you might want to put them on your next grocery list, for both your body's sake and your Insta aesthetic's.
You might not realize it just by looking at their pretty hues, but blue and purple foods are actually really nutritious and can have some pretty solid benefits for your overall health. For example, a new study published in the Journal of Gerontology Series A found that eating 200 grams (aka about two cups) of blueberries per day over the period of a month can lead to significant heart health benefits. After monitoring the blood pressure levels of 40 participants — who were randomly given either a daily blueberry drink, or a daily "matched control drink" over the course of a month, per the study's press release — researchers were able to see that the blueberry intake reduced people's blood pressure, so much so that it was actually comparable to the effects of a typical blood pressure-lowering medication.
"If the changes we saw in blood vessel function after eating blueberries every day could be sustained for a person's whole life," lead researcher Dr. Ana Rodriguez-Mateos said in a statement for the study's press release, "it could reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by up to 20%."
The tiny berry studding your morning muffin isn't just good for your heart, though. According to holistic nutritionist Miriam Amselem, the fruit benefits pretty much your entire body. "Blueberries are the rockstar fruits when it comes to brain health because they are loaded with antioxidants that may delay brain aging and improve memory," she tells Elite Daily in an email.
But blueberries don't have the produce market cornered on heart and brain health. All natural foods in this color family have some major perks. "Blue and purple foods owe their beautiful color to anthocyanin, a type of naturally-occurring pigment called a flavonoid," registered dietitian/nutritionist Kim Yawitz tells Elite Daily. "Flavonoids, and another type of pigments called carotenoids, add color to our diets, and each of these pigments brings different health benefits."
Intrigued? Here are a few to shop for the next time you're in the produce aisle.