Phytochemicals (or Phytonutrients) are only found in food (Fruits, Vegetables, Legumes, Grains and other plants) and more than a thousand have been identified, although only a few have been studied in details Phytochemicals are produced by plants and their function is to protect them against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Recent researches has shown they also have protective or disease preventive properties to the human body when ingested in large quantities. There is some evidence that certain phytochemicals may help prevent the formation of potential carcinogens, block the action of carcinogens on their target organs or tissue, or act on cells to suppress cancer development. There are several major groups of phytochemicals. The Polyphenols include a large subgroup of chemicals called flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant chemicals found in a broad range of fruits, grains, and vegetables. They are being studied to find out whether they can prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Isoflavones and Lignans may mimic the actions of the female hormone oestrogen. These oestrogen-like substances from these plant sources are called phytoestrogens. They may play a role in the development of and protection against some hormone-dependent cancers such as some types of breast and prostate cancer. Other polyphenols (including some flavonoids) act as antioxidants. These are thought to rid the body of free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger some forms of cancer.
Anthocyanidins and Quercetin are flavonoids that act as antioxidants and may protect against some cancers and heart disease. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant. Ellagic acid and Carotenoids (which give carrots and other fruits and vegetables their orange color) are also promoted as anticancer agents. Lutein and Zeaxanthin, may also reduce the risk of some cancers. Another group of phytochemicals, called Allyl sulfites, are found in garlic and onions. These compounds may stimulate enzymes that help the body get rid of harmful chemicals. They may also help strengthen the immune system. In brief – Phytochemicals can act in different ways as:
Main list of Phytochemicals:
It may sound complicated but Phytochemicals are extremely important to our health as explained in this very detailed article. Many experts suggest that people can reduce their risk of cancer significantly by eating more fruits, vegetables, and other foods from plants that contain phytochemicals.
By getting as much as information as possible and by understanding and using all that available information (i.e. ‘ANDI Scoring: The Truth‘) it is becoming easy to live a better life by eating the right food. Leafy green vegetables are indeed one of the best source of phytochemicals, therefore, the best weapon in prevention against cancer and many more diseases that we are told to learn to live with when we should not. We are a generation addicted to medicines, yet we have forgotten what is the most important in our life:
Use it wisely and eat natural… and whenever possible Organic, and is season.
Ban refined food and chemically altered food from your diet (and all other food that human should not eat), and opt for more fresh fruits and vegetables (there is an extended list of both above and in many other articles in this blog, but you can also find more information online and in specialised books, and you should seek medical or health care practitioner advice if you have any question).
You have the power to live a better and longer life, and for most an happier life.
We have all that we need to do it, and nature is giving to us in abundance.
N.B. Picked unripped fruits and vegetables, or growing on plants sprayed with herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, anti-fungal chemicals, will not have had the chance to manufacture their own defences against neighbouring plants, insects, and other animals, and anything that can attack their survival (simply because the job was done synthetically); therefore, the phytochemical content of those fruits and vegetables will be considerably reduced (not mentioning the massive load of chemicals locked in their DNA). Buying Organic may prevent the ingestion of those avoidable chemicals; however, if shipped from afar, fruits and vegetables, may still be picked unripped. Buying Local, is therefore a better alternative, as produce is usually picked closed to its ripening state.
Growing your own is by far the best solution, and it is more rewarding than anyone can tell you. And the joy to eat tasty, ripe fruits, will increase the nutrient value and absorption considerably.
Enjoy your food responsively.
Burkhard Kirste, 1994-08-19, 1998-02-02
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It is all about FOOD™
This Blog offers an easy-to-read condensed descriptive of food groups, nutrients, and their role on our body; cooking processes; world news with major impact on food and consumers; comprehensive reviews of restaurants (Menus, Food-on-plate and Quality of Service); and easy-to-follow Exquisite recipes, as well as healthy snacks and juices.
Olivier is a Michelin trained chef, a registered Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist, embracing fully his passion for good food and healthy eating.