A more recent development in the health field, phytochemicals are a hot topic when it comes to health and disease prevention. While much must be studied in regards to how and why phytochemicals benefit us, there can be no question that they do a body good. Let’s explore why that is.
What are Phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are chemicals found within plants that have protective or disease-preventative properties. Plants produce these chemicals as a way to protect themselves, but they also have been shown to benefit humans, as well. Research has revealed that more than 1000 phytochemicals can be found in plants.
How Do They Work?
Phytochemicals seem to work in two major ways:
- Antioxidant – Some phytochemicals function by protecting cells from oxidative damage. This may help prevent against cancer and many other diseases.
- Hormonal Action – Other phytochemicals imitate human hormones, like estrogen, helping to reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis.
Phytochemicals can also function by interfering with DNA replication, help slow the replication of cancer cells. Others bind to cell walls to prevent the adhesion of pathogens.
Phytochemicals and Color
Research has linked the color of plants to the kind of phytochemicals they contain and the health benefits they promote. So, what your veggies do for you depends on what color they are:
- Blue/purple – Promotes heart health (possibly by preventing blood clots from forming), manages blood pressure, aids memory, fights aging.
- Green – Helps prevent cancer, promotes healthy vision, strong bones and teeth.
- Red – Lower cancer risk, promotes urinary tract health
- Yellow/orange – Fosters heart health, healthy skin and bones, lowers cancer risk, bolsters immune system.
- White – Protects cell membranes and other cellular structures, helps lower bad cholesterol, aids in managing blood pressure.
So, as you can see, Skittles advertisers weren’t far off when they advised you to taste the rainbow. It’s just that the rainbow should be made out of fruits and vegetables, not candy.