Plant-based foods are full of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, but they also offer natural chemicals called phytonutrients that improve health. While these plant nutrients are not essential for normal body function, they are powerful in disease prevention -- making plant foods an important part of a nutritious diet. Enjoying a variety of foods will help you maximize your intake of these phytonutrients.
How it helps: A disease fighting phytonutrient. Research shows that ellagic acid may promote the death of cancer cells.
What to eat: Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates, pecans, and walnuts
How it helps: These anti-inflammatory compounds may help reduce the pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What to eat: Ginger root
How they help: Glucosinolates breakdown into active compounds when vegetables are chopped or chewed. These compounds may fight cancer by preventing DNA damage from carcinogens or the creation of cancer cells.
What to eat: Arugula, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and radishes
How it helps: This flavonoid has been found to reduce the inflammation associated with chronic disease reducing risks for cancer.
What to eat: Citrus fruits
How it helps: This phytonutrient has been found to reduce the risk for chronic disease by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
What to eat: Broccoli, beans, endive, grapes, kale, leeks, strawberries, and tomatoes
How it helps: Some studies suggest that lycopene can reduce the risk of cancer by blocking the growth of cancer cells. It is also associated with a reduced risk for heart disease and age-related vision problems.
What to eat: Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, and papaya
How they help: These compounds may protect against gastric and colorectal cancer. They may also reduce the the inflammation that is associated with cardiovascular disease.
What to eat: Chives, garlic, leeks, onions, and shallots
How it helps: Research shows that this flavonol may reduce the risk for asthma, cancer and heart disease.
What to eat: Apples, berries, grapes, and onions
How it helps: This antioxidant has been linked to the prevention of blood vessel damage, reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol, and reduced risk for cancer.
What to eat: Blueberries, cranberries, red grapes, peanuts, and pistachios