What is Butterfly Pea Flower?
Butterfly pea flowers are the vibrant blooms of Clitoria ternatea, a plant native to Southeast Asia and primarily cultivated in Thailand. The flowers take their name from the shape and size of the blossoms, as the bluish, purple flowers are about the size of a pea and closely resemble butterfly wings. The flowers are also referred to as ‘blue flowers’ or Asian pigeonwings.
Used in traditional Indian (Ayurveda) and traditional Chinese medicine, butterfly pea flowers have been used to treat a variety of health conditions. Nowadays, this brightly colored flower continues to be used globally for its health and beauty benefits.
Color Changing Magic
Notably, butterfly pea flowers are currently popular in food and beverage products because they possess the seemingly magical ability to change their color. When butterfly pea powder is diluted and combined with acidic ingredients, the substance transforms into a bright purple color. Though this may seem like magic, it is the result of a chemical change caused by the flower’s pH level.
Pretty and Powerful
Butterfly pea flower is high in antioxidants and polyphenols. The chemical compounds found in these flowers also work against glycation, which is when the proteins that makeup the skin are damaged by harmful sugar molecules. These properties help keep skin looking firm, youthful, and bright.
The flower is also highly concentrated in compounds called anthocyanins, which are the same antioxidants found in blueberries. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give red, purple, and blue plants their rich coloring. These flavonoid compounds work as an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory agent. Since antioxidants help the body fight damaging free radicals, butterfly pea flower can help stave off sun damage, and visible aging of the skin.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy in 2016, demonstrated that the antioxidants in butterfly pea flower effectively reduced free radical damage which has beneficial effects on skin, hair, and nails. The study also showed the flower’s effectiveness in providing a range of other health benefits when ingested, including helping regulate diabetes and improving central nervous function.
The butterfly pea flower is more than a beautiful and fun addition to food, beverages and skincare products. The powerful antioxidants and chemical compounds found in the flower can brighten skin, boost collagen production, and help keep your overall health in great condition.