SUPER FOOD: Professor Lindsay Brown shared his findings of the queen garnet plum variety with staff at Ipswich Hospital following months of investigation.
SUPER FOOD: Professor Lindsay Brown shared his findings of the queen garnet plum variety with staff at Ipswich Hospital following months of investigation. Contributed

Purple foods could be the key to weight loss and health

PURPLE super foods could hold the key to Ipswich becoming a healthier city.

USQ Professor Lindsay Brown recently shared his interesting health discoveries at Ipswich Hospital's Research and Innovation Week and said foods like plums, purple carrots and berries could be the key to weight loss and health.

"Obesity is now common with about one third of the adult population being obese, one third being overweight, and one third having normal or low body weight," he said.

"We have discovered that many components of foods can reduce the organ damage of chronic obesity in a rat model, especially damage to the heart, blood vessels and the liver, reducing abdominal fat pads, and improving body metabolism of glucose and lipids.

"In particular, purple foods such as purple carrots and the queen garnet plum have been very effective, returning organ function to normal."

Professor Brown said the active ingredient was the anthocyanins, the compounds which gave the purple colour to many berries as well.

"The anthocyanins are effective as they are remarkably effective as anti-inflammatory compounds, so therefore reducing damage throughout the body," he said.

"We have also researched the purple carrots, which are grown at Kalbar and also in the Lockyer Valley.

"To me, this is an example of value-adding to the rich agricultural produce of south-east Queensland so that we can produce functional foods as a commercial exercise, so foods that can improve health as well as provide nutrition."

The professor said his research could be particularly important for those in the Ipswich area, with Queensland Government figures showing it to be the most obese region in the state, with about 70% of adults being overweight or obese.

He said people could incorporate any purple foods they liked into their diet.

"Purple carrots can replace the orange carrots in our meals. There are many recipes for great but simple meals such as purple carrot soup, maybe with some beneficial spices such as pepper or black cardamom, also in salads.

"Purple plums will be available as fresh fruit from January to March next year, but there is also a queen garnet plum juice available.

"The uses of these purple foods are only limited by the imagination."

Professor Brown said he would be continuing his research to increase the variety of functional, healthy foods.

"One example is collaborative testing with scientists at James Cook University on tropical seaweeds that can be grown commercially," he said.

"Further, we have a whole range of foods that were used by indigenous people.

"We need to know a lot more about these Australian native fruits as they all contain significant amounts of these anthocyanins.

"We need clear scientific evidence to support their use, not just anecdotes."



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