What Are Phytonutrients? Types, Food Sources and Their Impact on Our Health
Phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants. Plants use phytonutrients to stay healthy. They serve various functions in plants, helping to protect the plant’s vitality. For example, some phytonutrients protect the plant from UV radiation while others protect it from insect attack.
They can also provide significant benefits for humans who eat plant foods. Among the benefits of phytonutrients are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Phytonutrients may also boost immunity and intercellular communication, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alter estrogen metabolism. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that consuming a phytonutrient-rich diet seems to be an “effective strategy” for reducing cancer and heart disease risks.
Foods Rich in Phytonutrients
– Vegetables and Fruits with red, orange and yellow color (such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, mangos, melons, citrus fruits, and berries)
– Dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, bok choy, broccoli, Swiss chard, and romaine lettuce)
– Garlic, onions, chives, and leeks.
– Whole grain products (such as brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, and whole wheat whole grain bread and whole grain cereals)
– Nuts and seeds (such as walnuts, almonds, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds)
– Legumes (such as dried beans, peas, lentils, soybeans and soy products)
– Tea and coffee (such as green tea, black tea, and other herbal teas)
– Dark chocolate (with at least a 70 percent cocoa content or higher)
Phytonutrients aren’t essential for keeping you alive, unlike the vitamins and minerals that plant foods contain. But when you eat or drink phytonutrients, they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
There are thousands of phytonutrients found in plant foods. However listed below are six phytonutrients you may know about:
Watch the video below to find out more about Phytonutrients and their impact on our health: