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 merrell@sustainableweightlosshabits.com. 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.

 


12 Comments

  1. Darren

    Reply

    I’ve heard of phytonutrients before, but didn’t really know what they were all about. After reading your article I now have a much better understanding of what phytonutrients are and why we need them.

    One you read the explanation, it’s all very simple. Sounds more complex when you read the word that what it is. Very interesting read. Luckily I already consume loads of phytonutrients.

    • Merrell

      Reply

      Hi Darren, glad that you are able to gain a better understanding by reading my post. And I am even happier to hear that you are getting plenty of it! Keep it up!

      Cheers,

      Merrell

  2. Jon

    Reply

    As someone who takes vitamins on a regular basis, I have just realised that I don’t really know that much about the aspects of fruits and vegetables that make improve health. Your post on the importance of phytonutrients has really opened my mind as to how I can improve my health by eating nutrition rich food full of phytonutrients. Thank you very much.

    • Merrell

      Reply

      Hi Jon, glad that my site about phytonutrients aided you further with your understanding of plant nutrition, vitamins, fruits, and vegetables! And I am glad you regularly practice the habit of taking supplemental vitamins to begin with, not many people have such a habit and thus may not be obtaining the right amount of nutrients on a daily basis! Keep it up!

  3. delroaustria

    Reply

    I personally enjoyed eating tomatoes, radish and white onion together with apple cider vinegar in salad form. I also loved to drink matcha powdered green tea mixed with honey in cold water.

    I thought I was eating enough phytonutrients but while reading your article, it seems that I need to eat other “plants” to suffice my nutrient need.

    Thanks for this information.

    • MLim

      Reply

      You are very welcome! An alternative is to be taking phytonutrient supplements as well. It augurs well for folks that have a busy lifestyle and perhaps for some that feel that eating a “HUGE” amount of fruits of vegetables on a daily basis isn’t quite feasible. All the best, and do let me know if you need help with a phytonutrient supplement recommendation.

      Speak soon,

      Merrell

  4. Heather

    Reply

    I found your article on phytonutrients very interesting. I eat alot of tomatoes and salads, and have never considered supplementing them in my diet. How would you know if your deficient in Phytonutrients? I am very curious to learn more about this and am encouraged to keep eating those tomatoes. Thank you for the useful information in your article. It was very helpful.
    Take Care,
    Heather

    • MLim

      Reply

      Hi Heather, thanks for the query and glad to hear that you have a good amount of tomatoes and salads on a daily basis. Deficiencies shows up as different symptoms based on deficiencies in different vitamins and minerals. The rule of thumb is to be consuming between 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. If those are met, there is a lower likelihood that you are deficient in any phytonutrients. All the best and don’t forget exercise as part of the other equation!

      Speak soon,

      Merrell

  5. isaac

    Reply

    I’ve heard about the term phytonutrient but never really understand what it is. Never thought that it’s simply plant nutrients lol!May I know what’s the rule of thumb for your consumption to get these nutrients sufficiently? I’ve been trying to increase my fruit and vegetable intake so I would like to know how much should I eat to give an effect to my health.

    • MLim

      Reply

      Hi Isaac, thanks for the query, the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetable servings is between 5 to 13 servings per day. Each serving is estimated to be equivalent to the size of your palm. Keep it up!

  6. Primo Perez

    Reply

    Hi Merrel: Being a Primal-Paleo advocate I can relate to this article and the enormous benefits of Phytonutrients. It is important to consume a good mixture of phytonutrients, which is why the Primal-Paleo diet is the most successful in ensuring our bodies remain healthy for as long as possible. By adhering to this diet, we are consuming lots of different fruits and vegetables, which provide us with a large range of phytonutrients for a healthier lifestyle. Thank you so much for sharing this important information.

    • MLim

      Reply

      Hi Primo,

      Appreciate the comments and feedback, the audience will love to hear more about Primal-Paleo and how phytonutrients are an integral part of it.

      Speak soon,

      Merrell

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