In my prior post about living longer by eating the right foods, I quoted:
“Natural foods are better than supplements because there are hundreds of phytonutrients in vegetables and fruits that companies and scientists haven’t discovered yet”
In this post I’ll peel the onion on why should we care about phytonutrients.
What are phytonutrients?
“Phyto” in Greek means plant. Plants produce more than 25,000 organic compounds and chemicals called phytonutrients. Their role is to protect plants from bugs, viruses, bacteria and other threats. And they can help the human body as well.
Phytonutrients, unlike vitamins and minerals found in plant foods, are not needed to keep you alive. However, they will help you build a strong immune system and prevent diseases.
How phytonutrients help build strong immune system?
According to USDA, phytonutrients:
- serve as antioxidants
- enhance immune response
- enhance cell-to-cell communication
- alter estrogen metabolism
- convert to vitamin A
- cause cancer cells to die
- repair DNA damage caused by smoking and other toxic exposures
- detoxify carcinogens
What are some good sources of phytonutrients?
Top fruits include:
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries
Top vegetables include:
- Dark greens like spinach and kale
- Brussels sprouts
- Red pepper
Eat many colors
FInally, with phytonutrients, variety is key. Try to eat 5 to 7 colored foods a day. The darker and brighter the color, the healthier the fruit or vegetable is for you.