12/08/2011

What are Phytonutrients?

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What are Phytonutrients ?


Did you know only about 1/ of Americans eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day which is the MINIMUM amount recommended for optimum health. Also in recent years , researchers have found that the nutrients in fruits and vegetables can do more than just prevent diseases such as rickets and beriberi.


Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are any chemical produced by a plant. These phytonutrients may protect against a wide range of ailments such as abnormal heart rhythms, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, osteoperosis as well as certain cancers and gastrointestinal disorders.


Currently there are 11 classes of phytonutrients. Thay are carotenoids, dietary fiber, glucosinolates, indoles and isothiocyanates, inositol phosphates, phenols and cyclic compounds, phytoestrogens, plant sterols, polyphenols, protease inhibitors, saponins and sulfides and thiol-containing compounds.


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Phtochemicals are found in a variety of foods-major sources include vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, soybeans and tea with many foods containing more then one class of phytonutrient.


Where to find Phytonutrients ?


Currently, over 560 carotenoid structures have been identified. About 10 percent of these ast as Vitamin A precursors including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene. These act as antioxidants by protecting against heart disease, stroke and certain cancers as well as boosting the immune system.


It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get the most out of phytochemical benefits. Examples include


Apples, citrus fruits, cranberries, grapes, broccoli, celery, onions, chocolate, red wine, tea � Flavanoids � Fights oxidation and blood clots.


Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, peppers and tomatoes � Carotenoids � Fights oxidation.


Chives, garlic, leeks, onions � Allyl sulfides � May reduce blood-cholesterol levels and helps liver detoxify cancer promoting chemicals.


Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower � Isothiocyanantes � May block carcinogens from damaging a cell’s DNA.


Cruciferous vegetables � Indoles � May convert estrogen into less cancer � promoting form of the hormone.


Citrus fruits � Terpenes � May help the liver detoxify cancer promoting chemicals.


Soy � Isoflavones � May block the entry of estrogen into cells which may reduce the risk of breast or ovarian cancers; may alleviate menopausal symptoms.





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