Everything You Need to Know About Phytonutrients

I love helping my patients integrate healthy behaviors and foods they enjoy and provide the best nutritional value for optimal health.  As an example, eating colorful things, especially plant-based foods, is a great way to protect yourself from chronic diseases.

A great majority of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and even tea contain something called phytonutrients.  Phytonutrients are what give plant foods their beautiful vibrant colors- the red, yellow, orange, and even purple. They are not really essential nutrients for life, but have some amazing health benefits.

When you eat them, these compounds are active in your body, offering amazing protective properties that promote good health. More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. So, the likelihood of consuming hundreds when choosing any one plant food is pretty high! Different types of phytonutrients offer different benefits, so be sure to eat a variety of colors to get the most health-promoting benefits. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties seem to be an effective strategy to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Some examples of the most abundant phytonutrients out there:

  1. Carotenoids: The yellow, orange and red colors that are in most fruits and vegetables are from the group of phytonutrients called carotenoids.

Carotenoids help to strengthen immunity, improve eyesight and lower the risk of cancer.  They act as antioxidants in your body. This means they tackle the harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout your body.

Some great sources are tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, and carrots.

  1. Another group of phytonutrients is the Flavonoids.  They are responsible for many of the purple, blue, and red colors in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, offering protection against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and more. Some can improve vision.

Sources of flavonoids are green tea, apples, berries, oranges, lemon, grapefruit, onions, legumes.

  1. A third example of phytonutrients is Resveratrol. Like most other phytonutrients, resveratrol has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to help strengthen immunity. Research suggests that it also helps in reducing the risk of various heart conditions and certain cancers.

Sources of resveratrol are grapes, red wine, pistachios, cherries, dark chocolate, strawberries, and blueberries.

  1. Another important group of phytonutrients are called lignans. They actually mimic the effects of female hormone estrogen. They are associated with reducing hormone-related cancers like uterine and ovarian cancers. They are found in kale, broccoli, apricots, and strawberries. They are also found in large amounts in sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rye, and oat bran. But the richest source of lignans is flaxseed.

So, if there is one change you can make to get healthier, it would be to eat more plant-based foods. When making your plate, be sure to eat your colors. The more color, the better (both for your eyes and for your overall health).

If you want more information, feel free to reach out to me and my caring team at info@healthymeweightloss.com  

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