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The Colorful Truth About the Foods You Eat

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The Colorful Truth About the Foods You Eat


Colorful Truth

"Eat your vegetables." How many times have you heard that piece of advice?

The truth is, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables really does do your body good. They're packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants we all know are important for good health.

But there's much more. fresh fruits and vegetables also contain powerful chemical compounds that, while not essential to keep us alive, help protect our bodies from certain diseases.

Phytochemicals — nutritional armor for your body

Fruits, vegetables and other plant foods like whole grains, beans and nuts are made up of thousands of natural protective chemicals, called phytochemicals. Also called phytonutrients, these compounds shield plants from being harmed by germs, fungi, bugs and other threats.

Yet, their protective powers don't end there. When you consume them, phytochemicals can also help safeguard your health.

Available in a rainbow of colors

More than 25,000 phytochemicals have been identified in plant foods, and each produce item gets its color from specific phytochemicals. Here's a look at a rainbow assortment of fruits and vegetables, a few of the phytochemicals they contain, and the health benefits they can provide.

Fruits and VegetablesPhytochemicalsHealth Benefits
Red — Tomatoes, red peppers, red onions, beets, cherries, watermelon, pomegranatesLycopene and ellagic acidHelp fight cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, improve skin quality
Orange and yellow — Grapefruit, oranges, mangoes, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, carrotsCarotenoids (like beta-carotene) and hesperidinImprove immune function, reduce the risk of heart disease, promote eye health
Green — Broccoli, kale, collard greens, asparagus, spinach, green beans, avocados, kiwi fruitLutein, isothiocyanates and isoflavonesBoost the immune system, help detoxify the body, restore energy and vitality
Blue and purple — Blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage, eggplant, plums, prunes, figsAnthocyanins and resveratrolFight cancer and unwanted inflammation
White and brown — Cauliflower, garlic, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, parsnips, daikon radishSulforaphane, allicin and quercetinProtect against certain cancers and keep bones strong

To get the most health benefits from phytochemicals, make a point to include a colorful array of fruits and vegetables into your meals every day.

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