Whether you’re trying to “eat the rainbow” or simply introduce a pop of color to your garden, discover these stunning and nutritious purple vegetables to grow and eat!
Purple vegetables are eye catching and highly nutritious. Purple vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And, they’re delicious! Something about that deep, rich, noble color makes these vegetables taste better than their other-colored counterparts. Purple vegetables can also be more appealing to children and are a great way to encourage your kids to eat their “greens.”
Purple vegetables benefits
Besides their visual appeal, are purple vegetables really that good for you? It turns out that they are!
Purple vegetables contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are flavonoids and powerful antioxidants. They are responsible for the red and purple hues in many popular fruits and vegetables. In general, there is a direct relationship between the richness of a fruit or vegetables blue/purple color and its antioxidant content. The deeper the blue or purple color, the more anthocyanins are present. (source)
This meta-analysis of anthocyanins has a great deal of information about anthocyanins and their potential health benefits and uses if you want to know more about these powerful compounds.
Top benefits of purple vegetables
Antioxidants reduce inflammation. Diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, asthma, and some cancers are magnified by on-going inflammation. Including more purple vegetables in your diet may alleviate or prevent some of these symptoms.
Anthocyanins also have demonstrated effectiveness in lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.
They may prevent age-related declines, too, according to a study on purple potatoes and their effectiveness in improving memory.
Do you love purple? Be sure to check out these purple flowering bushes!
Purple vegetables to grow
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Although purple vegetables have gained greater mainstream popularity, they can still be difficult to find in “normal” grocery stores. The best way to ensure you have fresh, high quality purple vegetables is to grow them yourself.
Growing purple vegetables is also a great way to enhance your health and your garden’s beauty. Many purple vegetables also attract pollinators who love bold colors.
From sun-loving tomatoes to cold-tolerant carrots and kales, there is a purple vegetable variety for every season!
The history of carrots is long and intriguing. In the beginning, they were purple and yellow, not orange. Orange carrots didn’t become a thing until the 1500s, and according to the Mythbusters crew, it was all due to politics and fashion. Of course!
Thankfully, nowadays, purple carrots are enjoying a comeback, and we all get to benefit from enjoying their unique flavor and nutritious properties.
Purple carrots are fun to use since they have deep purple exteriors and white, yellow, or orange centers. They really brighten up a salad! There isn’t just one variety either; there are many cultivars with varying sweetness and shades of purple.
Purple cauliflower is a recent star in the purple vegetable world. Amazingly, it contains 15% more antioxidants than kale, the so-called superstar of antioxidants. Purple cauliflower is also rich in vitamin C and K with a healthy dose of folate, B6, and manganese. (Read more about purple cauliflower nutrition information here.)
Purple cauliflower tastes a bit sweeter and nuttier than white cauliflower. Roast purple cauliflower for a wonderful, rich flavor, or add it raw to salads. It keeps its color after cooking, which increases its appeal on the dinner plate. Maybe the kids won’t eat plain white cauliflower, but introduce them to this vibrant variety, and they may change their minds.
Many folks think potatoes come in one color and flavor, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Do yourself a favor and grow or buy some purple potatoes.
There are many varieties of purple potatoes, some that keep their color during cooking and others that don’t. All of them, though, are rich in potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Williams, Breon (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 46 Pages - 04/12/2018 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
If you’ve visited the South in the winter, you’ve probably seen decorative flowering purple kale. There are several varieties of purple edible kales that are just as pretty and delicious, too!
Kale is known as the superfood antioxidant queen of the vegetable world. It’s also classified as a “nutritional powerhouse” by the CDC. Purple kale is even more nutritious and antioxidant-packed. Kale is easy to grow for much of the year in most parts of North America. It’s delicious in salads when you pick it small and tender. Larger leaves are perfect for soups, stews, kale chips, and more.
Kohlrabi isn’t a vegetable found on most American’s dinner table, but that needs to change.
Kohlrabi comes in green and purple. I personally prefer purple kohlrabi (and not just because purple is my favorite color.) Purple kohlrabi varieties like the Purple Vienna that I’m growing this year are quicker to maturity, which means you’ll enjoy your spring or fall crop early.
Kohlrabi looks like a turnip, but don’t let that deter you. The flavor is crisp and sweet and tastes amazing raw in a salad or slaw. Roasted kohlrabi is a delicious treat, too. Plus, kohlrabi is rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They are super easy to grow and even easier to eat.
Kohlrabi is easy to grow from seed, so there’s no reason to hunt around for transplant seedlings at the store. It’s a cool season crop which means you can grow it in both spring and fall!
Raw or roasted, purple cabbage always looks beautiful and tastes delicious. It is commonly used in coleslaw, salad mixes, and stir-fries. Even better, fermented cabbage in sauerkraut or kimchi provides good gut-healing probiotics.
Purple cabbage is high in vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium. The flavor of purple cabbage is a bit stronger than the green type, with a slight peppery taste when raw.
There are various types of cabbage, including round headed cabbages, more slender pointed cabbages, Chinese napa cabbages, and Asian pak choi or bok choy cabbages. Slender headed cabbages and pak choi are easier if you’re just starting your cabbage growing journey.
Like carrots, tomatoes somehow became associated with one color, and that color isn’t even the original one. Tomatoes, at first, were orange or yellow, not bright red!
Now tomatoes are available in a wide range of colors, including purple. Purple tomatoes are among the most prized by chefs and gourmets.
Their flavor is rich, smoky, and complex, something you’d not expect from a tomato, a unique experience that should not be missed! All tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene. And, that makes purple tomatoes doubly amazing with antioxidants – lycopene and anthocyanins.
Some purple tomatoes have a very deep indigo color that’s almost black. Other “purple” varieties, like the Cherokee Purple, have more of a dusky chocolate color. I personally find Cherokee Purple difficult to grow for beginners and recommend growing a smaller tomato if you’re not used to growing your own tomatoes.
Since many deep purple tomatoes are cherry tomatoes, be sure to read this guide on how to harvest and preserve cherry tomatoes.
Okra gets a bad rap, and I was among the haters until I tried purple okra. The flavor, texture, and inherent sliminess are significantly different than their green cousins.
Purple okra is also called red or burgundy okra because the color varies along the pod from a purple hue to a reddish one.
Purple okra is best lightly oiled and salted, then roasted. Crunchy, flavorful okra tidbits are excellent added to salads. Purple okra is rich in magnesium, antioxidants, folate, vitamin A, and fiber.
If eating okra isn’t your thing, purple okra has stunning pods and pretty flowers that brighten up a summer garden.
Usually the first thing people think of when it comes to purple vegetables, eggplant deserves its notoriety as the quintessential purple vegetable. Interestingly, not all eggplants are purple, but many are.
Sadly, many people claim to dislike this vegetable. Mostly, this is due to flawed preparation. Try out a recipe for roasted eggplant, and you’ll see why this purple vegetable deserves to be revered at the dinner table. Eggplant is high in B vitamins, potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals.
Purple Sweet Potatoes
High in vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and vitamin C, purple sweet potatoes are superstars of the purple food world.
Originally cultivated in Japan, these sweet potatoes are slowly becoming popular across the globe. I’m personally fond of Molokai purple sweet potatoes since I used to enjoy fresh, locally grown ones when I lived in Hawaii.
Purple sweet potatoes keep their color after cooking, which adds to their charm and appeal. We eat with our eyes first, and purple sweet potatoes are rewarding to the eyes and taste buds. Purple sweet potato french fries, anyone?
Sweet potatoes can be grown from seeds or slips. It’s easier to start with a pre-rooted slip or a tuber, not true seeds.
Purple Bush Beans
Beans aren’t always green, and we are so thankful for that. They taste almost the same as green beans, but vibrant purple green beans look look exceptional in salads or arranged in a raw vegetable tray. Their purple flowers are edible, too, and delightfully sweet and crisp.
Purple bush beans lose their purple color when cooked, so make sure to admire their pretty purples before throwing them in the pot.
I personally enjoy growing Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. They’re compact and easy to grow. I’ve had many plants produce well past the two weeks you normally expect from bush beans. Pick green beans when the seeds are just starting to become plump and visible – don’t wait for them to fully swell or the beans will be tough and better suited to using as dry beans.
Bush beans produce less per plant than “standard” vining beans, but they don’t require trellising and are ideal for container gardening.
You may think of asparagus as green, but did you know there is purple asparagus, too?
Nothing compares to the sweet, crisp taste of homegrown asparagus. Asparagus is a perennial, which means it comes back year after year. Plant it once and enjoy for years! One asparagus crown can produce for 10-20 years.
More purple vegetables to try
Natasha Garcia-Lopez is an avoid home-gardener and proud owner of 88 acres of farmland. She was a member of the Association for Living History Farms and Agricultural Museums for many years and is currently enrolled in the Oregon State University Master Gardner Short Course program so she can better assist you with your gardening questions.She holds a certificate in natural skincare from the School of Natural Skincare.