Most people know that we need adequate amounts of oxygen, water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and good carbs for great health. What they don’t realize is that a group of micronutrients, also called phytonutrients, can help prevent disease and restore health and vitality. Phytonutrient- and enzyme-rich foods are essential to vibrant health and well-being, yet they are almost completely ignored by other diet plans.
There are about 2000 known phytonutrients and many others are being discovered all the time. And, you guessed it, they’re found in fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, sprouts, and seeds. A single fruit or vegetable may contain more than 100 different types of healing phyto nutrients that basically make up the immune system of the plant. Once eaten, they impart their incredible healing abilities inside your body. The thousands of phytonutrients are categorized into families, including carotenoids, catechins, flavonoids, lipoic acid, phytoestrogens, polyphenols, sulfurophane, and others. Let’s explore the phytonutrient families and find out how you can include more of them in your diet.
These natural, health-boosting substances give certain fruits their purple to reddish colour. Not only does research show that anthocy anins have the capacity to boost short-term memory by 100 percent in just eight weeks, they also stimulate the burning of stored fat in the body to be used as fuel.
Up your intake: Anthocyanins are found in dark purple or red grapes, cherries, and berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
Not only do Cartenoids help strengthen your eyesight and boost your immunity to disease, they are powerful antioxidants that, in some studies, reduced the risk of cancer and protected against the effects of aging.
Up your intake:Carotenoids are the yellow, orange, and red pigments found in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, papaya, peaches, and other similarly coloured foods as well as dark green veg etables like broccoli and leafy greens.
Want to lose weight? Be sure to add catechins to your diet since they activate fat-burning genes in abdominal fat cells to assist with weight loss, and belly fat loss in particular. According to research at Tufts University, catechins increase abdominal fat loss by 77 percent and double total weight loss.
Up your intake: Catechins are mainly found in green and black tea, as well as apples.
Flavonoids are the miracle nutrients we keep hearing about in the media lately; they interfere with the stages of development of cancer cells. Resveratrol, a particular flavonoid found predominantly in grapes, has demonstrated its ability to protect the brain from damage.
Up your intake: Flavonoids are found in berries, cherries, currants, pomegranates, red and purple grapes, red onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, apple (skin), and walnuts.
Now you can understand why phytonutrients play such a critical role in your diet. In the coming weeks, you’ll learn more about the disease-preventing and even reversing powers of phytonutrients and how to get more of them in your diet.
By Michelle Schoffro Cook of Intent