Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health
Phytonutrients … polyphenols … antioxidants … what do all of these terms mean?

 

The term phytonutrients is a broad name for a wide variety of compounds produced by plants. They’re found in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and other plants. Each phytonutrient comes from a variety of different plant sources and has different proposed effects on, and benefits for, the body. Some researchers estimate there are up to 4,000 phytonutrients! Scientists have identified thousands of them, although only a small fraction of phytonutrients have been studied closely.

 

Common Names for phytonutrients: antioxidants, flavonoids, phytochemicals, flavones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides, polyphenols

 

How Do You Get Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are found in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, grains). By maintaining a balanced eating pattern that includes different forms and colors of fruits and vegetables, you’ll provide your body with a wide variety of all beneficial compounds, including phytonutrients! So, enjoy your fruits and veggies during every eating occasion … just fill half your plate with them and leave the rest for grains and protein.

 

The Health Benefits of Phytonutrients
New experimental studies are emerging that demonstrate multiple effects of fruits and vegetables (and their phytonutrients), suggesting that they may have an even greater role to play in human health than the already positive results seen to date.

 

Top 6 Phytonutrients You May Know About

 
Phytonutrient Proposed Benefits Food Sources Fun Facts
Beta-Carotene Immune System
Vision
Skin Health
Bone Health
Pumpkin
Sweet Potato
Carrots
Winter Squash
Cantaloupe
Apricots
Spinach
Collard Greens
Kale
Broccoli
Think orange and dark, leafy green veggies
Lycopene Cancer (Prostate)
Heart Health
Tomatoes
Pink Grapefruit
Red Peppers
Watermelon
Tomato Products
The heating process makes lycopene easier for the body to absorb
Lutein Eye Health
Cancer
Heart Health
Collard Greens
Kale
Spinach
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Lettuces
Artichokes
This phytonutrient is found in the macula of the eye
Resveratrol Heart Health
Cancer
Lung Health
Inflammation
Red Wine
Peanuts
Grapes
1 cup of red grapes can have up to 1.25 mg of resveratrol¹
Anthocyanidins Blood Vessel Health Blueberries
Blackberries
Plums
Cranberries
Raspberries
Red Onions
Red Potatoes
Red Radishes
Strawberries
Think red and purple berries
Isoflavones Menopause
Cancer (Breast)
Bone Health
Joint Inflammation
Lower Cholesterol
Soybeans ½ cup of boiled soybeans offers 47 mg of isoflavones²
 
 
Caution about Supplements: Phytonutrients, in the amounts consumed in a healthy diet, are likely to be helpful and are unlikely to cause any major problems. Some people assume that because phytonutrient supplements come from “natural” sources, they must be safe and free from side effects, but this is not always true. Check with your doctor and pharmacists before consuming any phytonutrient.
 

 

 
¹ Linus Pauling Institute. “Macronutrient Information Center,” Oregon State University, Accessed March 19, 2012 from
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/resveratrol/
² 2Linus Pauling Institute. “Macronutrient Information Center,” Oregon State University, Accessed March 19, 2012 from
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/soyiso/

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