What are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are basically plant nutrients, perhaps a fancy way of putting it.
Similar to the term “idiopathic”, perhaps mentioned by one of your physicians in the past, it is a medical lingo- for : “I don’t really know why this happened to the patient…”… It is a “Big” term, but ultimately, easy to understand and digest.
So here is the fact, “Phyto” is simply the greek word for “plants”, therefore, “Phytonutrients” simply means, plant nutrients! As simple as that.
So, what are plant nutrients?
Plant nutrients are natural chemicals that are found within both fruit and plants, you may be surprised to hear that you may have at least heard or encountered these terms when you are strolling through the vitamin isles at the grocery store or while watching Food Channel on TV.
Few examples of phytonutrients include resveratrol (that’s right, found in grapes and red wine!), carotenoids (found in tomato, carrots etc.), and lycopene (found in watermelon, papaya, grapefruits etc.). Obviously there are may more, but I would like to discuss about few of the better known ones on this page.
The above are just a few examples of phytonutrients; these are all essential for the body to work efficiently and to prevent diseases. For example, there are well documented studies of resveratrol, an antioxidant in the skin of grapes, that is capable of reducing inflammation and the oxidation (harmful) processes within our body. In fact this is the basis of why there are recommendations for one glass of red-wine per day to lower the risk of heart diseases. Some studies go as far as citing evidence that it may also help with reducing the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, and even neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Another example of a phytonutrient that we commonly hear about would be lycopene (a type of carotenoid). This is the natural chemical found in fruits and vegetables that gives a red coloring. The most common source of lycopene is from tomatoes. Similar to resveratrol, it is also an antioxidant that has been well documented to reduce the risks of heart attacks (decreases atherosclerosis- build up of plaques in the arteries), inflammation, and prevent certain cancers such as gastrointestinal-related cancers (colon, bladder, prostate) and many others (breast and uterine cancer). There are evidences of lycopene being beneficial in patients with cataracts as well.
Cathecins, found in your green tea is another example of phytonutrients. We have all heard about the potential benefits of drinking green tea to help with weight loss , heart protective effects, aid with digestion, and the possibility of fending off certain types of cancers.
Are Phytonutrients Important?
Now, do you see the benefits of having sufficient amount of phytonutrients in your regular diet? It is rather essential that we have a good mix of food containing phytonutrients in our daily diet. Unfortunately, not everybody is obtaining sufficient amounts of phytonutrients each day through their diet. This could be due to the fact that many working adults nowadays are busy and tend to opt for less healthy meals. If you notice, not many restaurants would serve a sufficient amount of vegetables with a standard meal, and most restaurants do not offer fruits as an option along either.
This is why I tend to turn to supplements as a source to ensure I have sufficient nutrient intake. Of course, the quality of the phytonutrient supplements is important, I tend to select those that provide me with the most varieties of phytonutrients and trust worthy source of plant nutrition (e.g. from a verifiable organic farm). Other alternatives are available from larger and better well known retailers such as GNC.
If you have any comments or queries about phytonutrients, please leave me a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in finding out about my choice of phytonutrient supplement, please leave me a note as well, I will be glad to share on how I select my ideal choice of phytonutrient supplements.