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College of Human Ecology

Alum writes about purple powerhouse: food

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

janet_helm1Janet Helm has two degrees from K-State. But she seldom gets to focus on Purple Pride in her job as a dietitian and nutrition writer.

In a story in today's Chicago Tribune, Helm wrote not about purple Wildcats, but about purple food.

"You can now find a growing array of heirloom and specialty vegetables with a distinctive purple hue-purple potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, beans, corn, asparagus, peppers, baby artichokes and cauliflower," she wrote.

"The dark pigments responsible for the purplish tones are called anthocyanins, a type of phytonutrient, or plant compound, hailed for its potential disease-fighting benefits.

blueberries

courtesy of healthier-harvest.com

"Studies suggest anthocyanins may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Some evidence indicates these purple pigments may protect our brain as we age.

"The most concentrated natural sources of anthocyanins are blue and red fruits, including blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, cherries, Concord grapes and lesser known berries such as chokeberries, elderberries and bilberries."

Helm has a bachelor's degree in human ecology and mass communications and a master's in dietetics.

purple-cauliflowerThe registered dietitian is an executive vice president and director of food and nutrition for Weber Shandwick in Chicago. She provides strategic counsel to a variety of food and beverage clients - including the national got milk? Milk mustache campaign, Pork. The Other White Meat, Kraft, Campbell's, McCormick, and Mars.

A regular columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is a former national media spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association.

View Helm's purple story and a sidebar story on Quick Tips for Purple Food.

This article was posted on Wednesday, April 1, 2009, and is filed under Hospitality Management.