Thousands of phytochemicals have been identified in the plant foods we eat. The more phytochemical-rich foods eaten, the lower the risk for diseases such as cancer and heart disease. One serving of fruit or vegetables may contain more than 100 different phytochemicals. It is important to eat a variety of raw and cooked vegetables to gain the most benefit from phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals contribute to the pigments of fruits and vegetables:
- Red - lycopene found in tomatoes, watermelon, & pink grapefruit,
- Orange - beta carotene found in carrots, mangoes, & cantaloupe,
- Yellow - beta cryptothanxin found in pineapple, oranges, & peaches,
- Green - indoles found in broccoli, cabbage, & kale,
- Purple - anthocyanins found in blueberries, grapes, eggplant & cherries,
- White - allicin found in garlic, onions, & chives.
The most well known phytochemicals are the antioxidants. Colorful plant foods are loaded with antioxidants so eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is a great way to protect the body from oxidative damage, and therefore reduces the risk of numerous health conditions.