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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.

Potential Health Benefits of Foods by Color
Color Health Benefits Foods
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
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