By Meri Raffetto, Wendy Jo Peterson

You may be surprised how healthy a simple serving of popular Mediterranean vegetables really is for your body. You’ve probably heard the saying “You are what you eat,” meaning that if your food is full of sugars and unhealthy fats, that’s what you have coursing through your body. Vivid description, but true! Luckily, the same is true for eating vegetables.

Here are the health benefits of some popular Mediterranean veggie crops so that you can feel great about loading them up on your plate:

  • Broccoli: Broccoli is truly loaded in vitamins and minerals. In fact, it has too many to list here (just take our word for it). Broccoli is chock-full of vitamins C, K, and A as well as folate. Broccoli is known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant capabilities and helps enhance the body’s detoxification system. This little green tree can help you fight off chronic diseases such as heart disease and even some forms of cancers.
  • Eggplant: Eggplant is very popular in the Mediterranean; it provides a unique flavor and a beautiful, rich purple color. Eggplant is a good source of phenolic compounds that protect the plant from weather and bugs and help you prevent heart disease and cancers.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers are on just about every menu in Crete and southern Italy, and they’re better for you than you may expect. The skin of cucumbers contains both vitamin C and caffeic acid, which help reduce water retention and skin swelling (hence their popularity as an eye mask). They’re also a good source of potassium and magnesium, which help maintain healthy blood pressure. Plus, cucumbers provide high water and fiber contents and few calories, making them a great food to help you feel satisfied and refreshed.