Essential Phytonutrients Your Body Needs (Where You Can Find Them)
Written by: Brandi Monasco
You’ve probably read numerous articles that talk about different fruits and vegetables containing phytochemicals or phytonutrients and why they are so good for you. But, some articles never really explain WHAT phytonutrients or phytochemicals are or WHY they are so good for your body.
I am going to fix that for you!
WHAT Are Phytonutrients and Phytochemicals?
Phytonutrients and phytochemicals are basically one in the same. They are types of natural occurring chemicals that are produced by plants. The plants use them to stay healthy, which is ironic because they can help keep your body healthy too!
Some plants use their phytonutrients to help protect themselves against insect attacks and others use phytonutrients to help protect themselves against UV rays from the sun.
WHY Are Phytonutrients So Important?
When it comes to phytonutrients, they are considered more than a nutrient, they are considered essential for life. Phytonutrients provide many health benefits such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They also help enhance your immune system and repair any damaged DNA that has been exposed to toxins.
Phytonutrients neutralize free radicals. Each and every day, your body is attacked by substances that are called “free radicals.” Free radicals cause oxidative stress that can potentially cause different conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as different cancers, heart attacks and inflammatory diseases.
Your body comes into contact with free radicals through daily pollution, sunlight and chemical substances. Phytonutrients are considered to be antioxidants, which means they can reverse or even prevent the damage to your cells that is caused by free radicals.
However, there is more than just one type of antioxidant and more than one way you can incorporate them into your daily diet.
Here Are Some Of The TOP SOURCES For Phytonutrients/Antioxidants:
#1. Carotenoids. These phytonutrients are responsible for the red, yellow, pink and orange colors you see in fruits and vegetables. They protect your body against cellular damage, which is responsible for early aging and some chronic diseases. Carotenoids also support your eye health, cardiovascular health and your skin health.
However, your body is not able to produce carotenoids naturally, meaning your diet is the only way to get them. The best sources of carotenoids include:
- Sweet potatoes
Tip: Eat carotenoids with meat or foods that contain oil. Your body will absorb the nutrients better with just a tiny bit of good fat.
#2. Flavonoids. These phytonutrients are also responsible for the bright and vivid colors you see in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids have more than 6,000 types, making them the largest group of phytonutrients. They are also a type of antioxidant that prevents blood clots and heart disease.
You can find flavonoids in:
Tip: The pulpy part of citrus fruits and the skin of apples contain the most flavonoids.
#3. Indoles And Isothiocyanates. Indoles are found in cruciferous veggies. They play a role in lowering levels of harmful forms of the estrogen hormone and instead create a more benign and less harmful form of it. Because of this, indoles stimulate the cancer-preventing enzymes and lower women’s chances for breast cancer.
Just as indoles protect your body against cancer, isothiocyanates do the same job!
You can find these phytonutrients in cruciferous veggies such as:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Radishes and turnips
Tip: Slightly steam these veggies to preserve the phytonutrients.
Now you know and hopefully understand a little bit more about phytonutrients; what they are, why they are essential for your body and where you can find them at!
Source, Source, Source, Source
Source: The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies. (2007). New York, NY: Rodale.
Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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