Blue foods are a rarity in nature; only a handful of blue fruits and vegetables grow across the globe. Scientists have found that the color blue is actually an appetite suppressant. Consequently, many weight-loss experts have advised clients to eat off blue plates or install a blue light in their refrigerator. However, the blue foods that exist in nature offer numerous health benefits. Blue foods get their color from phytochemicals (plant compounds) called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties. Blue foods offer a variety of other nutrients, including Vitamin C, fiber and flavonoids.
Arguably the most well-known blue food, blueberries are a fruit native to North America. Blueberries grow on a shrub belonging to the heath family; cranberries, azaleas and bilberries are also apart of this family. There are about 30 species of blueberries, and each of the species grows in a specific region. The evergreen species, for instance, can be found in the Pacific Northwest, and the highbrush variety grows throughout the Eastern seaboard. Featuring a tart taste, blueberries are packed with nutritional benefits. They boast antioxidants that help neutralize the free radicals that could lead to heart disease and cancer. Blueberries have also been found to boost brain and gastrointestinal health and may help to prevent colon and ovarian cancer.
A cousin of the blueberry, the bilberry primarily grows in Northern Europe. With a taste similar to the blueberry, the bilberry grows on a perennial shrub and becomes ripe in late summer. While bilberries are commonly used in pies and jams, they have also been apart of European medicine for almost 1,000 years. The fruit was commonly used to treat ailments such as diarrhea, scurvy and vision problems. Today, bilberries are used to reduce the risk of blood clots and for their antioxidant properties. The fruit is available in both fresh and dried forms.
Blue potatoes have existed for thousands of years and are believed to be native to South America, though they are also found throughout Europe and North America. True to their name, blue potatoes feature blue skin and a blue potato beneath the skin. Blue potatoes are excellent baked, steamed or roasted and have an earthy taste. Like blueberries and bilberries, blue potatoes are also packed with antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Blue corn is native to the American Southwest and has been a staple in Native American diets for centuries. Most blue corns are flour corns, meaning that they have soft, floury insides covered by a hard outer shell. Blue corn is ground into flours or meals to make tortillas and tortilla chips, among other foods. Along with antioxidants, blue corn also contains Vitamin A, niacin and thiamine.
- A Healthier Michigan: What Purple and Blue Foods Can Do For You
- Color Matters: Color and Food Matters
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Blueberries
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Bilberry
- "The Seattle Times"; There's Joy in the Blues -- Potatoes, That Is; Greg Atkinson; March 15, 2009
- New Mexico State University: Blue Corn Unique to American Southwest; D'Lyn Ford; Nov. 2, 1999
Katherine Hartman started writing professionally in 2008, covering topics such as film, theater architecture and environmental issues. She has contributed to "Cleveland Magazine," "Southeast Ohio Magazine" and "Building Design and Construction" magazine, among other publications. Hartman graduated from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in journalism.