Foundation promotes purple food benefits

The widely-held belief that "green is best" is being challenged by the Blackcurrant Foundation in its latest campaign, which hails the benefits of eating purple foods.

The foundation has been set up by growers to raise awareness of the numerous health benefits of blackcurrants, whose deep purple colour indicates their high level of anthocyanins.

These chemicals are disease-fighting antioxidants that guard against ageing, joint inflammation, eyestrain, kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, cancer and urinary tract infections.

However, a survey carried out by the foundation on 2,000 people showed that on average more than half of Britons (53 per cent) consider green-coloured foods to be the healthiest in their diet - even though purple foods contain many beneficial components to help the body fight disease.

While a third of UK adults were aware that purple foods were significantly healthier than other colours, only a mere 14 per cent of the people surveyed identified purple as being the most beneficial to health compared to 53 per cent for green and 24 per cent for red.

Half of the respondents interviewed said they consumed green food on a daily basis compared to eight per cent who made a conscious effort to "get their purple".

Green also came out top in the poll to determine the most commonly consumed coloured fruit and vegetable, closely followed by white/brown, orange/yellow, red and lastly purple.

Added to this, 60 per cent of those surveyed admitted that they do not ever consider the colour of their shopping trolley to be important and would never think to link colour to the health benefits of food.

Blackcurrant Foundation chair Jo Hilditch said: "While we knew that many people were unaware of the benefits of eating a colourful diet, these results are still staggering.

"It is promising to see that so many people are eating green fruits and vegetables. However, consumers need to make sure they are getting a full variety of colour.

"Incorporating more purple foods such as blackcurrants will certainly help to create a varied diet while simultaneously providing a range of health benefits."

Bee Hives

Hilditch is investing in bumblebee hives to improve crop pollination. Bumblebees are better pollinators than some of the commercial bees she has previously used on her Herefordshire farm.

"We also have orchards here so we are hoping its going to be very helpful," she said. Plants that are pollinated quickly are more resistant to Botrytis, a relationship that is being investigated by scientists at the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

Hilditch also revealed that scientists are looking to develop pheromone traps for leaf-curling midge and the blackcurrant sawfly - a pest that is "capable of destroying a crop in a weekend".

"We are trying to look towards more organic forms of pest control. When products get taken away it's difficult for us to keep things going," she added.

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