Phytochemicals and the Mediterranean Diet
Besides vitamins and minerals, plants also contain phytochemicals, and the Mediterranean Diet is plant-based. Don’t be scared by the big word. Phytochemicals are simply healthy chemicals that offer your body healthful benefits. A plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, and legumes can provide you with an increased amount and variety of phytochemicals, helping to promote heart health and working to prevent certain cancers.
Research in this area is relatively new and is uncovering a whole side of previously unknown health benefits. To date, certain phytochemicals have been shown to work as antioxidants, contain anti-inflammatory properties, and promote heart health.
Phytochemicals provide the pigment to your fruits and vegetables, so you can literally know which class of phytochemicals you’re consuming simply by noting the color you’re eating.
|Blue/purple||A lower risk of some cancers; improved memory; and healthy aging||Blueberries, eggplants, purple grapes, and plums|
|Green||A lower risk of some cancers; healthy vision; and strong bones and teeth||Broccoli, green peppers, honeydew melon, kiwi, salad greens, and spinach|
|Red||A lower risk of heart disease and of some cancers, and improved memory function||Pink watermelon, red bell peppers, and strawberries|
|White||A lower risk of heart disease and of some cancers||Bananas, garlic, and onions|
|Yellow/orange||A lower risk of heart disease and of some cancers; healthy vision; and a stronger immune system||Carrots, oranges, yellow and orange bell peppers, and yellow watermelon|