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PHYTONUTRIENTS: WHAT ARE THEY?


What are phytonutrients, and why should you care?


If you're curious about the answer to this question, you're in luck – because we're going to explore just that in today's blog post.


As it turns out, there are a lot of good reasons to be interested in phytonutrients... so read on to learn more!



An Introduction


phytonutrients are, most simply, chemical compounds found in plants that are believed to have a number of beneficial effects on human health.


While much of the research about phytonutrients is still ongoing, it is clear that plant foods form an important part of a healthy diet.


By ensuring that you are getting enough plant foods in your daily meals, you can improve your overall health and help protect against certain conditions that commonly affect modern society.


So whether you are picking out fruits and vegetables at the grocery store or reworking your meal plan for the week, remember to make phytonutrient-rich foods a priority!



Functions Of Phytonutrients


Though they have received much less attention than other nutrients, phytonutrients may play an important role in the health and functioning of our bodies.


One major function of these compounds is to protect plants against diseases and environmental stressors.


In humans, phytonutrients help to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and support the cardiovascular system.


They may also promote healthy aging by reducing the risk of chronic conditions and acting as powerful antioxidants.


Ultimately, it is fair to say that plants are a vital component of our diets, providing key benefits to our bodies.



What Foods Contain Phytonutrients?



As you already learned, the word “phytonutrients” is derived from the Greek word “Phyto” meaning plants.


In essence, the word “phytonutrients” literally translates to “nutrients from plants.”


The most viable phytonutrients include, but are not limited to:

  1. Polyphenols

  2. Terpenoids

  3. Resveratrol

  4. Flavonoids

  5. Isoflavonoids

  6. Carotenoids

  7. Limonoids

  8. Glucosinolates

  9. Phytoestrogens

  10. Phytosterols

  11. Anthocyanins

  12. Omega-3 fatty acids

  13. Probiotics

These nutrients are known to play specific roles in human health, which is why they are so famous in the field of medical nutrition.


With that in mind, the effects of phytonutrients include, but are not limited to, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-cancer, anti-aging, neuroprotective, etc.


And what are the best phytonutrient-containing foods, you may ask?


Let’s have a look at our top 5 list!

  1. Yellow, orange, and red vegetables and fruit, such as tomatoes, squash, peppers, sweet potatoes, mangoes, peaches, melons, and berries

  2. Dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and kale

  3. Nuts and seeds - walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds

  4. Tea and coffee

  5. Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas


Practical Applications


There is a wealth of evidence that suggests that people can benefit from including more plants in their diets.


Plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are rich in viable nutrients, which are not limited to just phytonutrients.


Plants also have a plethora of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and even protein, though the latter is not as good as that in animal foods.


That said, some people may question whether it's worth it to go out of their way to add more plant foods to their diet.


After all, they might wonder if these plants really provide any significant benefits above other food groups.


While there is certainly plenty of research that indicates the potential health benefits of including plant foods in your nutrition, what is perhaps most convincing is the fact that so many cultures around the world have relied on plant foods for their nutritional needs.


Clearly, these communities recognize the value of consuming a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and from this perspective alone, it seems clear that adding more plant-based foods to your diet is well worth the effort.


So regardless of your goal, incorporating more plant foods into your nutrition plan can only help!


What is your favorite plant food? Comment below!


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