From Anthocyanins to Linalool: 5 wondrous plant-based foods

From additives and preservatives to colorants and emulsifiers, we know our food is tainted with adulterants. So, it’s nice to see the inherent goodness already present in whole foods. Nature’s foods are packed with natural compounds that create their unique flavors, colors and textures while also providing health benefits.

From the anthocyanins that lend vibrant hues to purple produce to the linalool in lavender that calms us, the chemical composition of common plant-based foods is a testament to nature’s remarkable complexity. Below are five plant-based foods with interesting, health-promoting ingredients.

  1. Anthocyanins in purple foods
    Anthocyanins are the pigments that give blueberries, purple carrots and red cabbage their color. These compounds can change color based on the pH of their environment, acting as natural pH indicators.
  2. Linalool in lavender
    Lavender contains linalool, a terpene alcohol with a floral scent commonly used in aromatherapy and flavoring. It has calming properties and is also found in other plants like mint and citrus fruits.
  3. Chocolate, a feel-good food
    Chocolate contains a compound called anandamide, which is also produced naturally in the human brain and is associated with feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
  4. Carrots were not always orange
    In the 17th century, Dutch farmers bred a hybrid carrot to honor their king, William of Orange. This new carrot combined white, yellow and purple colors, eventually leading to the orange carrot we know today.
  5. Nutmeg can cause hallucinations
    Eating large quantities of nutmeg can lead to hallucinations, brain activity slowdown and nausea. Despite this, nutmeg has been prized throughout history for its aroma and seasoning properties.

This post reminded me of the incredible diversity and richness of our everyday foods. It’s good to pause to appreciate and understand the natural wonders on our plates. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of food chemistry, we deepen our connection to the culinary world and really start to appreciate the incredible food nature gives us.

Consider incorporating one or more of these plant-based foods into your diet and experience firsthand their flavors, textures and potential benefits.

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