Phy­tonu­tri­ents in Your Diet

Consumer Voice - - Food & Stuff -

Plant foods con­tain thou­sands of nat­u­ral chem­i­cals called phy­tonu­tri­ents or phy­to­chem­i­cals. Phy­tonu­tri­ents not only help plants stay healthy (for ex­am­ple, pro­tect­ing them from in­sect at­tacks and against ra­di­a­tion from UV rays) but can also pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for hu­mans who eat plant foods. They are not con­sid­ered to be nu­tri­ents that are es­sen­tial for life – like car­bo­hy­drates, pro­tein, fats, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als – but they may help pre­vent dis­ease and keep your body work­ing prop­erly.

There may be as many as 4,000 dif­fer­ent phy­tonu­tri­ents but some com­mon ones are: carotenoids such as lutein, flavonoids, coumarins, in­doles, isoflavones, lig­nans, organosul­fures, and plant sterols. Although these are not es­tab­lished as vi­tal nu­tri­ents, they have been known to have a pos­i­tive im­pact on health in terms of re­duc­tion of the risk of oc­cur­rence of can­cer, heart dis­eases, stroke, Alzheimer’s dis­ease, Parkin­son’s dis­ease, etc. Phy­tonu­tri­ents have an­tiox­i­dant and an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties that help in pre­ven­tion of dam­age to cells, and thus con­sump­tion of phy­tonu­tri­ent-rich foods pro­motes healthy liv­ing and healthy age­ing. Some of them are known to have an­tibac­te­rial prop­er­ties and some oth­ers boost the im­mune sys­tem. They have also been cor­re­lated to main­tain and strengthen the func­tion­ing of hor­mones. Phy­tonu­tri­ents may also en­hance in­ter­cel­lu­lar communication and re­pair DNA dam­age from ex­po­sure to tox­ins.

Phy­tonu­tri­ent-Rich Foods

Many phy­tonu­tri­ents give plants their pig­ments, so a good way to tell if a fruit or a veg­etable is rich in phy­tonu­tri­ents can be by its colour. Here are some com­mon phy­tonu­tri­ents-rich food sources:

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