Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is good for your health. The compounds that give produce its hue offer an array of health benefits – and the best way to benefit from all that these foods have to offer is to fill your plate with a rainbow of color.

Purple foods have been touted in headlines in recent years as being superfoods. And when it comes to purple foods, or foods that contain a deep bluish or reddish hue, antioxidants and flavonoids are the superstars at play. Antioxidants are what make foods colorful – and the darker the food, the higher the antioxidant level.

Anthocyanins are a powerful antioxidant that give purple foods their vibrant color. They have also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, mop up free radicals and are believed to contribute to improved cardiovascular health. Additionally, they may have cancer-fighting properties. Another flavonoid in purple-colored fruits and vegetables is resveratrol, which may help reduce blood pressure. Resveratrol helps relax arterial walls and decreases pressure in the arteries, allowing for better circulation.

Examples of foods that contain these powerful nutrients include:

  • Purple grapes
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant
  • Beets
  • Red or purple cabbage
  • Black currants
  • Purple onions
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple cauliflower
  • Purple sweet potatoes
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates

Although additional research needs to be done to conclusively back health claims, here is some of the research showing why the antioxidants in purple foods may be so good for your health:

Heart. The anthocyanins in black currants have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 13 percent while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Resveratrol may help prevent damage to blood vessels and reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

CancerStudies on animals have shown that resveratrol in purple foods may inhibit the spread of colorectal cancer. Other studies have shown that this compound may have a positive effect on breast, prostate, liver, lung, skin and blood cancers.

StomachOne study showed that anthocyanins helped reduce the formation of stomach ulcers in rats.

Urinary Tract. Anthocyanins have been shown to fight H. pylori, a bacteria that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Liver. The anthocyanins in purple foods may reduce liver damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Not only are purple-hued foods filled with healthy antioxidants, but they also contain a mix of important vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. As an added bonus, they taste good and fill your plate with vibrant color, so be sure to include purple foods in your diet as much as possible.