The Health Benefits Of Superpower Phytonutrients

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Thanks to the internet and the increase in health and fitness culture throughout the world, most people have a basic idea of how they ought to eat, even if they don’t always do it. It’s common knowledge that your body requires vitamins and minerals in order to keep you alive. But it turns out that there is a whole other category of nutrients that offer all kinds of benefits, and it goes by a name that most people have never heard of.

We’re talking about phytonutrients, and in this quick introductory guide, we’ll tell you what they are, why they are so beneficial, and what foods you can eat to get more of them. Keep reading!

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Phytonutrients are not required for the human body to function—they just make it function a lot better. These chemical compounds are found in many types of fruits and vegetables, and they are responsible for giving these foods their bright colors. They also offer an incredible range of health benefits that all too often go overlooked and underappreciated, even by people who might otherwise consider themselves health-conscious.

Phytonutrients have powerful antioxidant properties and are especially useful for detoxifying purposes. Oxidative stress is caused by the damaging effects of oxygen on our cells, and it is ultimately what drives the aging process. It is strange, in a way, that taking in oxygen through breathing (and consuming oxidized foods) is what ends up killing you in the end, but it’s the truth. Luckily, antioxidants in foods can help protect against that, and the phytonutrients in the foods and drinks we’ll be listing here are some of the best ways to get them.

Detoxifying has become a popular trend in the health and nutrition world over the last few years, and with good reason. Between chemical and heavy metal contamination in so much of our food and the inflammation and other problems linked to oxidative stress, phytonutrients can offer a plethora of health benefits, and here is the list.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Types Of Phytonutrients And Their Benefits

1. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the widely-praised superfood turmeric and is responsible for giving this vegetable its signature deep orange color. A staple ingredient in Indian food and many other Asian cuisines, it is also what gives curry its distinct flavor. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and multiple studies have shown it to have cancer-fighting potential. Unfortunately, the curcumin in turmeric is not absorbed very well by the body. However, eating turmeric with black pepper can help improve the absorption.

2. Do you like berries? Then you’re in luck! Flavonoids are one of the most powerful types of phytonutrients and are found to varying degrees in almost all types of berries, so no matter which kind you like best, you’ll be able to reap their benefits. Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient which are found in blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, and raspberries, just to name a few. There are different types of flavonoids, including flavonols, quercetins, resveratrol, and more. Each of these helps fight oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also effective at binding to heavy metal compounds and excreting them from the body.

3. Finally, there is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, which is found in green tea. This powerful beverage is widely known for its antioxidant properties, and this is the reason why. EGCG also has other health benefits, including protecting the brain. One study published in Molecular Food & Nutrition Research found that EGCG was able to promote the generation of new brain cells in the areas of the brain most affected by neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies have shown that EGCG was effective in lowering blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, inhibiting the growth of cancer, and even helping people lose weight.

 

KEEP READING: 10 Best Antioxidant Rich Foods

 

Phytonutrients are a complex subject, and this is by no means a comprehensive list of all their attributes, but unless you’re a biologist or a nutritionist, you don’t need to know all the details. All you need to know is that phytonutrients offer so many health benefits—and are in so many things you probably already eat—that you’d be foolish not to include them on your shopping list. So quit stalling, pick up some berries, and see what all the fuss is about.

 

References:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

www.nutritionfacts.org

www.globalphytonutrient.org

www.ajcn.nutrition.org

www.pubs.rsc.org