The Benefits of Phytonutrients - to Counteract Aging and Disease
are tremendously beneficial to everyone! Hidden within the various plant foods you eat, there are hundreds of beneficial compounds that contribute to your health and wellness.
These gems help reduce nutritional deficiencies, which are responsible for many health-related problems today.
Mother Nature had an AWEsome plan! Plants that contain the most compounds are brightly colored or pungent in odor. For example, sulfur compounds found in garlic and onions repel bugs and keep plants healthy. Other compounds protect plants from bacteria, viruses, and other natural enemies.
It only makes sense that when you eat the foods that contain these plant protecting compounds, they also protect you from diseases like high cholesterol, arteriosclorosis, cancer
, heart disease
, and even aging.
10 Major Types of Phytonutrients
- Allylic sulfides
The Benefits of Phytonutrients
Eaten regularly, plant-rich foods eliminate free radicals and the damage they do to your cells. Your body is attacked daily by harmful substances known as free radicals, which are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron. When they enter your body, they need to steal an electron from one of your healthy cells to survive. When they do, they cause a chain reaction in your body.
Each electron that they steal leaves that cell with a missing electron so that cell must go on a mission to steal an electron from somewhere else in your body. It’s a vicious cycle. If this happens often enough over a prolonged period of time, irreparable damage and disease are likely.
Phytonutrients however, can step in and save the day! When they enter your body, they offer up one of their own electrons to the free radicals, which keeps the free radicals from stealing an electron from your healthy cells. When free radicals grab the free electrons, they become stable again and can do no further damage. Therefore, phytonutrients are potent antioxidants!
Some phytonutrients help regulate the hormone estrogen, keeping it at healthy levels. Estrogen is a kind of good news/bad news hormone. At normal levels, it helps control menstruation and normalizes cholesterol levels. If estrogen levels rise too much, it can stimulate hormone related breast or ovarian cancer.
One class of phytonutrients called isoflavones are almost bioidentical to natural estrogen. When you consume foods that contain isoflavones, these plant compounds bind to your cell’s estrogen receptors and are forced out of the body. This helps reduce estrogen levels naturally.
There are many different types of estrogen. Some can cause cancer while others are harmless. Certain phytochemicals are able to increase levels of harmless estrogen while decreasing levels of the dangerous kinds.
Plant chemicals neutralize and flush toxic chemicals from your body before they have time to harm you! They do this by manipulating enzymes known as phase-1 and phase-2 enzymes.
Phase-1 enzymes play the good cop/bad cop routine. They’re created by your body and are important for normal cell function. However, they do have the ability to work against you too! When toxic chemicals enter your body, phase-1 enzymes help make them active. Phase-2 enzymes step in and seek out carcinogens and detoxify them before they can do cellular damage.
When you eat fresh vegetables or fruits regularly, plant chemicals that they contain help kill off phase-1 enzymes while they increase the production of helper phase-2 enzymes. This process helps neutralize various cancerous toxins that may have accumulated in your body.
Mother Nature's foods are natural healers but are not consumed often enough. The problem is that most people are in a hurry so they tend to over-eat fast foods frequently. When this happens often enough, your body suffers and deteriorates from good health. Your youth, (when everything is in abundance in your body), will only protect you for so long!
It only makes sense that some foods cause harm to your body and some foods are advantageous to your body. When you consume more healthy foods that help reduce disease and aging, your health benefits in so many ways. Eating 5 – 9 servings of phytonutrients daily can help stabilize and boost your health.
List of Phytonutrient Foods
- Allylic sulfides – garlic and onions
Benefit: Raise HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers blood fat (trigliceride levels), prevents heart disease, stimulates enzymes that suppress tumor growth.
- Cartenoids - broccoli, cantaloupes, carrots, greens, and tomatoes
Benefit: Helps prevent heart disease and certain cancers.
- Flavonoids – apples, broccoli, citrus fruits, cranberries, endive, grape juice, kale, onions, and red wine.
Benefit: Prevents blood clotting and heart disease.
- Indoles and Isothiocyanates - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard greens, collards, spinach.
Benefit: Stimulates cancer preventing enzymes and lowers levels of estrogen.
- Isoflavones – chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans.
Benefit: Prevents certain cancers, lowers estrogen levels.
- Lignans – flaxseed, flax oil.
Benefit: Prevents certain cancers, lowers levels of estrogen.
- Monoterpenes – cherries and citrus fruits.
Benefit: Prevents cancer by blocking certain cancer-causing compounds.
- Polyphenols – green and black teas, fruits, vegetables, almost all cereal grains.
Benefit: Helps activate cancer fighting compounds.
- Saponins – asparagus, chickpeas, nuts, oats, potatoes, soybeans, spinach, tomatoes.
10+ Simple Ways to Get More Phytonutrients into Your Diet
Buy big bags of your favorite fresh or frozen fruits and make smoothies every morning for breakfast. (Add honey and yogurt for a real health booster!)
Take tomato sandwiches with you for lunch! Add cheese to increase calcium levels and pickles to help save calories.
Buy a juicing machine and juice your veggies and fruits.
Make large recipes of soups or stews on days off from work that contain plenty of veggies.
Sprinkle flaxseeds on your salads or drink a sip of high lignan flax oil everyday.
Add tofu to rice dishes or munch on salted soybeans instead of peanuts.
Eat at hometown restaurants that offer a wide variety of cooked and fresh vegetables.
Make pitchers of hot green tea, chill, and add lemon and ice for a refreshing drink!
Add chopped up grapes to tuna salad for a pleasant change.
Add cucumber slices, green leaf lettuce, onions, and bell pepper slices to your sandwiches!
Visit fruit stands and farmers markets more often. Be selective about the produce you buy.
Grapes are super easy to eat on the go! Buy dark red grapes and purple grapes to reap the most health benefits!
Add more vegetables to your dishes using your food processor. You can add finely minced squash or eggplant to your spaghetti for example. Add your own applesauce to cakes or brownies for super moist, super delicious and nutritious treats! Or buy fresh tomatoes and add them to ready made spaghetti sauces like Ragu or Classico!
Its really simple to get more phytonutrients into your diet if you just work at it a little. No pain, no gain, right? There are just far too many advantages not to! What a great gift from our Mother!
Related Pages on This Site
Healthy Vegetables - Buying Guide and Serving Suggestions
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Digestive Problems – Foods to Avoid & Foods to Include
High Fructose Corn Syrup – What Nature Never Intended!
Grape Seeds Benefits and Super Antioxidant Powers
Stay Healthy and Save Your Life!
The Secrets of Longevity
Healthy Food Facts - Getting the Most Nutritional Value
10 Healthy Foods to Include in Your Diet Regularly
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