You’ve heard it before. Eat a plate filled with colors. No, that doesn’t mean different colors of cookies and snacks but fresh fruits and vegetables! Phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain a variety of benefits helping to keep your body working properly and may help prevent cancer and other diseases.
There are thousands of phytonutrients found in plant foods but here are 6 important ones.
This phytonutrient causes the red, orange and yellow colors in your fruits and vegetables. It acts as an antioxidant in your body, preventing cell and tissue damage. Some foods are; pumpkin, carrots, tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
This helps protect against cancer in several ways such as possibly slowing the growth of cancer cells. Some foods are; strawberries, raspberries and pomegranates.
There are several flavonoids categorized into Catechins, Hesperidin and Flavonols. Green tea is a great source of Catechins, helping prevent certain types of cancer. Hesperidin is in citrus fruits such as tangerines and lemons, helping reduce inflammation in the body. Lastly, Flavonols are found in apples, berries, kale and onions.
This serves as an antioxidant and prevents inflammation. Some food sources are grapes, purple grape juice, and red wine.
Some vegetables have a sharp odor and flavor. These phytochemicals turn into other chemicals when heated up in the cooking process and also when you digest the food. The chemicals in these foods help prevent the development and growth of cancer. Cruciferous vegetables such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage are great sources of glucosinolates.
The main source of this phytochemical is soy foods because it contains isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen. Studies have shown that soy foods decrease the risk of endometrial cancer and bone loss in women.
A diet based on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables contain many beneficial effects to one’s health. Instead of eating the same fruits and vegetables all the time, change it up! Make mixed fruit salads and add more colorful toppings into your dishes and salads!