Purple Colored Food and Their Effect on the Brain

Purple plant foods appear to have numerous health-protective and anti-aging benefits. It turns out that all our diets may be lacking, is a bit of color!

Promising Antiaging Research on Purple Colored Foods


Anthocyanins are part of a class of natural compounds that give foods their flavor called flavonoids.

When Anthocyanins are present inside foods, they give the food a purple color.
However, anthocyanins can also produce red, blue, or black pigments too.

All anthocyanins appear to have a high antioxidant ability, scavenging for free radicals to remove them from the body.

Investigation reveals that anthocyanins in large quantities counteract inflammation, obesity, metabolic disorders, and undesirable levels of LDL cholesterol.

Eating foods that contained these powerful compounds also (not surprisingly) helped reverse the negative symptoms of diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, hormonal imbalance, Alzheimer’s disease, metabolism, specific cancers, and many more.

Research has clearly demonstrated that these purple compounds do not just help the gut, but they move to multiple other tissues in the body, including the kidney, liver and most importantly, the brain [1]Anthocyanin Metabolism in Rats and Their Distribution to Digestive Area, Kidney, and Brain!

9 Beneficial Effects of Purple Foods on the Brain

Let’s take a look at exactly how purple foods help to keep your brain alive and kicking!

1. Reduced Neuroinflammation
As quoted from the above video: “No organ in the human body is immune to inflammation.”

Anthocyanins, found in purple foods, were proven to attenuate inflammation inside the digestive tract, significantly improving metabolism and reversing the adverse effects of sugar consumption.

Inflammation all over the body appears to be an underlying cause for multiple chronic lifestyle conditions. The same is true of the brain and brain-related problems.

Neuroinflammation appears to impair cognition, learning, memory, and gives rise to volatile mood swings. Sugar, starch, and toxins can cause neuroinflammation to occur.

These colorful plant compounds were found to pass the blood brain barrier and protect the brain from neuroinflammation[2]Anthocyanins from Black Chokeberry (Aroniamelanocarpa Elliot) Delayed Aging-Related Degenerative Changes of Brain.

2. DNA Damage Prevention
Due to their supreme antioxidant properties, anthocyanins prevent DNA damage from multiple different angles.

Free radicals or oxidative stress causes DNA to become damaged. Anthocyanins actively scavenge the brain for these destructive compounds, eliminating them from the body.

These purple flavonoids also get the immune system working in the brain.

This starts to naturally release cascades of anti-inflammatory components as well as protect the DNA and surrounding structures from harm.

3. Enhanced Sleep
Eating dark-skinned berries will give you a deeper sleep, which has numerous antiaging brain benefits in of itself.

This is because the Anthocyanins in these berries (and likely a few other antioxidants) increase the levels of Serotonin in the brain.

Serotonin is actively involved in our sleep-wake cycle and the production of melatonin, which is required for deep sleep and overnight restoration of the entire body.

4. Improved Mood
Not only do Anthocyanins increase the levels of Serotonin in the brain, but they make you feel good by increasing Dopamine as well!

With natural levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter going up in the brain, it is inevitable that purple foods will improve your mood and fend off depression.

In many cases, flooding the brain with Dopamine does not support brain function as it tends to deplete Serotonin too. However, Anthocyanins counteract this by naturally bolstering Serotonin as well.

This way, Dopamine spikes do not negatively alter the brain or result in the withdrawal effects commonly associated with many kinds of drug abuse.

In other words, if you feel good after drinking a blueberry smoothie, you ought to listen to that reward response and give yourself a healthy dose every day!

5. Protection Against Neurodegeneration
The oxidation and eventual aggregation of fats (lipid peroxidation) in our brains contribute significantly to neurodegeneration.

Much like protein aggregates in those with neurodegenerative disorders, aggregated lipids destroy neurons by releasing large amounts of free radicals and ultimately preventing neural connections.

A study revealed that Nasunin (an anthocyanin) prevented lipid oxidation in the brain[3]Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels, thus effectively protecting against neurodegeneration.

Anthocyanins also protect against multiple other forms of free radical damage.

Ingested from whole plant food sources, Anthocyanins often come paired with many other beneficial antioxidant compounds, which all also work to prevent free radical damage and preserve our minds from neurodegeneration.

6. Brain Cancer Preventative
Anthocyanins have been proven not only to protect the brain, but also to prevent brain cancer!

In a study done on potent Acai Berry Anthocyanins, it was shown that the growth of gliomas (glial cell tumors) was inhibited. These flavonoids didn’t stop at merely impeding on the growth and spread of the gliomas; they also proved to destroy them by initiating tumor cell death (apoptosis) [4]Antiproliferative and antioxidant properties of anthocyanin-rich extract from açai!

Considering that gliomas constitute as much as 30% of all brain cancer on average, this discovery is a rather major contribution towards the prevention and reversal of cancer.

7. Enhanced Memory Capacity
Purple sweet potatoes also contain a decent dosage of anthocyanins.

The very same sweet potato anthocyanins were able to enhance memory in alcohol-fed mice[5]Antioxidant and memory-enhancing effects of purple sweet potato anthocyanin and Cordyceps mushroom extract. When compared to the potent antioxidants found in a mushroom extract, anthocyanins proved to do a better job at enhancing memory.

The leading cause of memory loss is neurodegeneration as a result of free radical activity.

When one considers how these compounds protect against DNA damage and oxidation in the brain, it would logically follow that working memory would be preserved.

8. Improved Learning and Cognition
Ingesting wild berries was shown to improve both learning and cognition in adult mice in as little as five days [6]Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity!

In humans, learning and cognition were also improved, particularly in those who demonstrated cognitive decline.

The cognitive-enhancing benefits of anthocyanins and other flavonoids have also proven to work on motor control and coordination, aiding us to learn new mental skills as well as physical ones.

9. Optimized Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis
Anthocyanins in wild blueberries were found to enhance mitochondrial function by increasing levels of glutathione and other antioxidants in the brain.

Mitochondria play a massive role in both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, providing energy to sites in the brain and body where both of these activities occur[7]Mitochondria and Neuroplasticity.

Other ways in which the mitochondria enhance neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are by:

  • Removing free radicals.
  • Optimizing neuron differentiation, growth, and adaptivity.
  • Mediating the release of neurotransmitters.

Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to rapid aging, neurodegeneration, and impairment of both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

Best Sources of Purple Nutrients

The best sources of anthocyanins come from foods that have a purple color all the way through. The same applies to red, black, or blue anthocyanins.

Here are numerous examples of foods that are rich sources of anthocyanins:

  • Acai Berries
  • Billberries
  • Black Currants
  • Blood Oranges
  • Blue Potatoes
  • Blue/Black Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Dark Red Grapes
  • Purple Cabbage
  • Purple Cauliflower
  • Purple Sweet Potatoes
  • Purple/Black Corn
  • Queen Garnet Plums
  • Raw Cacao Beans

Blueberries are a rich source of anthocyanins, which have demonstrated to have free radical scavenging effects that are above average anthocyanin capacity.

With the help of this 10-fold potency blueberry extract, you can quickly get a fix of some of the best brain nutrients.

Including more of blueberries wholesomely into your diet is also a good idea, as they will be paired with multiple other great antiaging compounds!

Raw Cacao Beans are purple due to the large quantities of anthocyanins they contain.

The color turns brown after all these nutritional components are roasted during processing. However, with the real raw deal, you can score on the brain-boosting power of raw chocolate!

Acai Berries have demonstrated some impressive brain health effects related to the magnified amounts of anthocyanins that they contain.

Adding a scoop or two of this raw organic acai berry powder to your smoothies will well be worth it for the sake of your brain and well-being – yum!

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