Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Benefits of Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals also known as phytonutrients are organic compounds found in fruits, vegetables and other plants which protect you against many life threatening conditions like heart disease, arterial damage and some forms of cancer, as well as protecting your skin against premature ageing. There are over 900 phytochemicals found in foods, and one serving of a fruit or vegetable may have as many as 100 different phytochemicals. Although it is not important to know the names and benefits of every single phytochemicals that exist, what is important is to understand that maintaining a diet that contains a variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables will combine the benefits of the phytochemicals and vitamins to help you achieve optimal health. Some of the well-known phytochemicals are lycopene in tomatoes, isoflavones in soy and flavonoids in fruits.

In a research it was discovered that the protective value of antioxidants could be measured in Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity units (ORAC). The highest protection is achieved when the daily diet provides 5000 ORACs. . Color is a good guide in determining the ORAC value of the plant food because the deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable the higher its ORAC score. Dark green, deep red, purple, blue, yellow and bright orange are the colors to look for Dark green and bright orange, for example, are an indication of the presence of beta-carotene.

Plant food vs Supplements: As we all know eating fresh fruit and vegetables is a hundred times better than taking supplements. As always in nature, it's the interaction between chemicals in plants that produces these magical benefits so you have to eat the plant foods themselves, you can't get the benefits from a supplement. There is a study that showed an increased risk of pneumonia in smokers taking beta-carotene supplements and other studies have shown that supplements of beta-carotene and vitamin E may put people such as smokers at greater risk of cancer.

Best Food Source: Approximate percentage of daily adult needs in an average portion.

* Prunes: 115%
* Blueberries: 50%
* Strawberries: 50%
* Spinach: 30%
* Brussel Sprouts: 30%
* Plums: 30%
* Baked beans: 20%
* Garlic: 20%


* Phytochemicals promote human health by strengthening the human immune system.
* Phytochemicals have been found to inactivate cancer-causing substances.
* Phytochemical helps protect the heart and eyes from disease.
* Phytochemicals helps to boost enzyme activity to increase the benefits of the various protective enzymes consumed within the diet.
* Phytochemical has been proven to reduce bad cholesterol levels.
* Phytochemical is anti-aging.
* Broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals that may reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

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