Phytonutrients or also referred to as Phytochemicals. Phytonutrients are certain organic components of plants, and these components are thought to promote human health and have been found to help with quite a few health problems. I feel that with all the recent information and studies that have been performed that this was something worth learning about. I will teach you about how they help you, what foods contain them and any information that I feel would be helpful to you.
The term “phyto” originated from a Greek word meaning plant. Unlike the traditional nutrients (protein, fat, vitamins, minerals), phytonutrients are not “essential” for life, so some people prefer the term “phytochemical”.
Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties (properties affecting the organs and the senses). For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic. The term is generally used to refer to those chemicals that may affect health, but are not established as essential nutrients.
Scientists estimate that there are about 10,000 different phytochemicals that are considered beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Phytonutrients may serve as antioxidants, enhance the immune system, enhance cell-to-cell communication, alter estrogen metabolism, concert Vitamin A (beta-carotene is metabolized to Vitamin A), cause cancer cells to die (apoptosis), repair DNA damage caused by smoking and other toxin exposure, detoxify carcinogens through the activation of the cytocrome P450 and Phase II enzyme system.
Phytonutrients, the chemicals that help plants defend against environmental challenges, such as damage from pests or ultraviolet light, appear to provide humans with protection as well. Research shows their effectiveness in preventing and treating a range of conditions including everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes and high blood pressure. These chemicals are thought to be responsible for much of the disease protection granted by diets high in fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, and plant-based beverages such as tea and wine, according to a University of California, Davis report.
Although it has become widely accepted that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses, scientists have only recently begun researching the effects of the different phytonutrients those foods contain.
Many experts suggest that people can reduce their risk of cancer significantly by eating the foods that contain phytonutrients, according to American Cancer Society. Evidence shows that they may work by helping to prevent the formation of potential carcinogens.
Research suggests that flavonoids, the most diverse group of phytochemicals, may be a key to the reduced mortality rates observed in people consuming high levels of plant-based foods, according to the UC Davis report.
Flavonoids are also commonly considered phenols, although the term “flavonoids” can refer to many phytonutrients. They are found in soy, kudzu, red clover, flax and rye, and have been researched extensively for their ability to protect against hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer.
Other phytonutrients include, broccoli, and the allylic sulfides from garlic and onions, all of which have been found to support our ability to detoxify noxious foreign compounds like pesticides and other environmental toxins.
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as helpful as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken, according to the American Cancer Society. So, the best choice, is to head to the local farmers’ market for the season’s freshest produce packed with those precious chemicals. And don’t forget to look beyond produce to the other phytonutrient-dense foods like beans and spices.
Beans are a miracle food, according to The Daily Times. They lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar and insulin production, promote digestive health, and protect against cancer. If you think of fiber, protein, and antioxidants and immediately think whole grains, meat, and fruit, think again – beans offer all three in a single package.
Turmeric, ginger, coriander, cumin and fennel are just a few of the spices containing phytonutrients, according to The Detroit News.
Marla Gates is the owner of organic4greenlivings.com. Marla worked for over 10 years in healthcare, which helped her understand the dramatic need for changes in our society and how we view what healthy actually is. Her mission is education and awareness, so that people can make healthier choices and ensure a safe world for all of us to live in, now and for future generations. Since she has suffered from Environment Illness or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), for 20 years or more it has given her the first-hand knowledge on what chemicals and pollution can do to your health. She knows how important it is to clean up our environment. So come join her and read her blog. With her research on various topics, she will give the best information possible. She believes that we can clean up our environment, but it will take time. Rome was not built-in a day nor can we make our world safe in one day! Each one of us needs to do our part to make it safe for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and all future generations. We can only do it one day at a time and one step at a time! Please join her in “Saving Our Planet Earth” “Go Green” & “Organic” to Live A Healthier Life!