11 Naturally Blue Foods (And Why you should eat them)

Let’s be honest, what’s the first thing we think about when we hear the term ‘blue foods’? 

Artificial food coloring, probably. 

We scoff at blue snacks like Takis Blue Heat Rolled Tortillas, or Blue Raspberry Gourmet Flavored Cotton Candy. This is because we know that they are completely lacking in nutrition. 

This cynical tendency we have towards the color blue isn’t by chance. The occurrence of the color blue in nature is so rare, our brains are practically hardwired to exhibit a bit of disbelief when it comes to blue foods. 

In fact, if we were tasked to list as many naturally blue foods as we can think of, we would probably just say ‘blueberries,’ and draw a blank after that. Sadly, our limited knowledge of blue foods means that we also have a limited understanding of the potent health benefits of these foods. 

Let’s explore the mystery that surrounds blue foods and find out why it’s so rare in nature. We’ll also highlight the best blue fruits and vegetables to give your dishes that otherworldly pop of style and flavor!

What Gives Blue Foods their Blue Color?

Blue Plants

Anthocyanins are the plant pigments that are responsible for the blue colors that we see in some fruits and vegetables. To be more specific, anthocyanins refer to plant compounds such as:

  • Cyanidin, delphinidin and pelargonidin (which are most often found in fruits), and
  • Peonidin, petunidin and malvidin (which are most often found in flowers). 

These 6 anthocyanins are present in many fruits and vegetables in various combinations. The specific combination of these anthocyanins is what produces colors such as red, magenta,  purple, and blue. 

However, anthocyanins are very unstable when faced with changing pH, humidity, sunlight, oxygen levels and so on. Furthermore, if any other types of pigments (such as chlorophyll or carotenoids) are present in the plant, they tend to predominate. This means that for the color blue to stand out, there needs to be a distinct lack of other types of pigments present in the plant. 

So basically, a host of conditions need to be just right for the accumulation and combination of the specific anthocyanins needed for a blue hue.  In a way, it’s like blue fruits and veggies won the natures lottery, which makes naturally blue foods nothing short of miraculous. 

bushell of blue crabs

Blue Animals

Blue is not a color that is easily found in the animal kingdom. However, some seafood can have a blue hue, such as the European blue lobster and the Chesapeake blue crab. 

Blue lobsters are actually regular lobsters that have a mutation which causes an excess of a specific protein. This protein interacts with a blue carotenoprotein called alpha-crustacyanin. The interaction produces a blue hue in the lobster’s exoskeleton.  

However, when blue lobsters are cooked, the color changes to resemble that of the American lobster

Chesapeake blue crabs have claws and legs that are a light steel blue in color due to the blue pigment alpha-crustacyanin.

Blue Cheese

Blue cheese is made with regular cow’s milk (or alternatively, sheep or goat’s milk), which is processed using Penicillium mold. This ripening process creates dull-blue veins where the mold has been added. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Blue Foods?

Anthocyanins are members of the flavonoid family. They are potent antioxidants which protect the body against free radicals. Thus, they lower the risk associated with diseases caused by oxidative stress. 

Anthocyanins also exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, antimicrobial, and neuroprotective effects when consumed.  This means that eating blue food helps us to avoid cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive decline. 

All the Blue Foods that Are Veggies 

Blue Potatoes

Blue potatoes are native to South America and have dark blue skin with light blue flesh. This variety of potatoes can also have purple flesh and is known to have a rich nutty taste. 

Blue potatoes are rich in potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C and B6.

Try making these delicious mashed potatoes with blue potatoes.

Blue Oyster Mushrooms

Blue oyster mushrooms are a member of the pearl oyster mushroom family. They have a similar flavor profile, but a much chewier texture. Blue oyster mushrooms are bright blue during their initial growth stages, but appear to be a light steel blue color when mature. 

Blue oyster mushrooms are great sources of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and proteins.

Try making these cheese-stuffed mushrooms or these balsamic vinegar mushrooms with blue oyster mushrooms.

Blue Corn

Blue corn is native to Mexico and is known for its sweet, nutty flavor profile. Unlike yellow corn, blue corn cannot be eaten raw, and is usually ground into a fine powder for use in cooking and baking. 

One cup of blue corn contains more than 10% of the body’s daily requirement for iron and manganese

Indigo Milk Cap

The indigo milk cap mushroom, also known as the ‘blue milk mushroom,’ originates from Mexico and Guatemala. When cooked, its flavor resembles that of the portobello mushroom. 

The indigo milk cap is a good source of fatty acids, fiber, and protein.

Blue Pea Flower 

The blue pea flower, also known as the blue butterfly pea flower, is a flowering plant (more specifically a vine) native to Asia. It also goes by many other names, including the bluebellvine and the Asian pigeonwings. However, the proper scientific name is the ‘clitoria ternatea’ (this name makes sense if you’ve seen the flower). 

When prepared as a tea, it appears as blight blue in color and tastes like chamomile. However, the blue pea flower is also frequently used as a natural blue food dye, especially in cocktails. In addition, it can be added to salads for an extra pop of color. 

This plant is rich in antioxidants, including kaemphferol, delphinindin-3,5-glucoside and p-coumaric acid.

Red Cabbage

Red cabbage is native to Southern Europe, and its flavor is peppery and crisp but slightly sweet when cooked. 

At this point, you might be wondering why red cabbage is listed as a blue vegetable. Red cabbage is an honorable mention because it turns blue when cooked (or when salt is added, as is the case of this Pickled Red Cabbage recipe). The cooking process changes the pH of the red cabbage, which needs an acid component to retain its red color. 

One cup of chopped red cabbage contains more than half of our daily requirement for vitamin C and more than 20% our daily requirement of vitamin K

Red cabbage is also a great source of fiber, folate, and potassium.

Try making this Irish Colcannon and or this creamy cabbage soup with red cabbage.

All the Blue Foods that Are Fruits


Blueberries are small, round, blue colored fruit that grow on shrubs, and are native to North America. Ripe blueberries are slightly sweet, with a tart aftertaste.

One cup of raw blueberries contains more than 20% our daily requirement for vitamin K and manganese.  

Blueberries are also a great source of vitamin C, fiber and potent antioxidants such as quercetin and myricetin

Most naturally blue snacks are blueberry flavored. For example, this delicious Sugar-free Blueberry Jam by Nature’s Hollow.

Concord Grapes

Similar to blueberries, concord grapes are native to North America. Concord grapes are small, round fruit that is extremely sweet and juicy when ripe. This variety of grape is known for the ease with which its skin can be removed while keeping its flesh intact. 

Concord grapes are high in fiber and are also great sources of iron and potassium. They are packed full of antioxidants such as anthocyanins and resveratrol.

Damson Plums

Damson plums, also known as European plums, are oval-shaped stone fruit that has dark blue skin and are extremely sour. They are not usually eaten raw and are mainly used to make jam or jelly. 

Damson plums are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium.

Blue Sausage Fruit 

The blue sausage fruit, also commonly known as the ‘dead man’s finger,’ is a long, sausage-shaped blue fruit native to East Asia. Its blue skin is entirely inedible, but its blue flesh is slightly sweet and reminiscent of melon or cucumber. It also contains many large seeds. 

Blue sausage fruit is a great source of both phosphorus and essential fatty acids.

Juniper Berries

Juniper berries are native to the northern hemisphere, including Asia, Europe, the UK, and North America. They have a bitter, woodsy flavor that resembles gin (the beverage). 

Juniper berries are packed with vitamin C, and many powerful antioxidants, such as beta-pinene and limonene.

Yummy Recipes Using Naturally Blue Foods

Here are a few yummy blue recipes that are guaranteed to be a big hit with family and friends!

Nana’s Best Blueberry Buckle   

Prepare to experience a fluffy, moist, delicious cake bursting with blueberry goodness. Now add a sweet, crunchy streusel topping and you’ll have a hard time sharing this tasty treat!

Blueberry Custard Cream Pie   

Use a pre-made pie crust to make this easy ‘no-bake’ blueberry-topped custard cream pie. What better way to enjoy blueberries as a blue superfood than in a mouthwatering dessert?

Blueberry Tart

Make a delicious blueberry tart by swapping out the apples for blueberries in this easy tart.

Old Fashioned Blueberry Pie

Sometimes all you want in life is a delicious pie. Use frozen or fresh blueberries in this recipe instead of cherries for a classic pie you’ll make again and again.

blue foods - pinterest pin

More About Food and Colors

All About Orange Foods

All About Pink Foods

All About Red Foods

All About Yellow Foods

Have questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below.


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