Optimizing health using a science-based holistic approach

What are Phytonutrients?

By on Sep 7, 2013 | 0 comments

PhytonutrientsFoods contain a number of different nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats or fatty acids
. Plant-based foods also contain biologically active, non-nutritive substances that can have a very beneficial impact on the health of the body. These substances are called phytonutrients. The Greek word for plant is “phyto;” thus these natural compounds are plant nutrients or phytochemicals (chemicals found in plants).

All plant foods contain thousands of phytonutrients. They are responsible for the plant’s color and flavor, and its ability to resist disease. While thousands of these protective and supportive nutrients have already been classified, scientists expect that many thousands more will be discovered over time.

While the terms phytochemical and phytonutrient are often used interchangeably, phytonutrients can be distinguished from the more general classification, phytochemical, because they are now considered necessary to sustain and promote life. The National Academy of Sciences has even determined some recommended dietary allowances for some phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are powerful disease-fighting and disease-preventing compounds that affect the human body in different ways. Some function as antioxidants, some stimulate enzyme systems and others activate hormone production. They can also function as basic raw materials for the body’s production of some anti-cancer substances. Other phytonutrients can act as cancer detoxifying substances by binding or diluting some carcinogens found in the environment or diet. Others work to deflect the activation of cancer-causing substances. Some can do both.

You can take advantage of these benefits every time you enjoy delicious fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds. If, for any reason, your daily menu plan does not include an abundant array of brightly colored plant foods, then it is recommended that you supplement your diet with a high quality multivitamin and mineral that includes a good antioxidant formulation containing these highly beneficial phytonutrients.



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