Phytonutrients are nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and their extracts. Phytonutrients can also be found in liquid vitamin supplements. To begin, an explanation of some classes of the phytonutrients is necessary.
Bioflavonoids are a class of phytonutrients that bind to toxic metal ions and help to rid the body of them. They also provide anti-infection properties and are anti-carcinogenic as well. Some of the best food choices are rosehips, berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, cherries, papaya, grapes, cantaloupe, plums, tea, buckwheat leaves, red wine, and tomatoes.
Another class of phytonutrients is the allium compounds. Allium compounds benefit the body by fighting cancer and heart disease. Garlic is in this class of phytonutrients. How do the allium compounds prevent cancer? Garlic is able to block the conversion of nitrites and nitrates (found in many preserved foods). Why is this important? Well, the nitrites and nitrates convert in the body to nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are known cancer causing compounds. Also, garlic has been linked to lower cholesterol in the blood. So garlic acts similar to antioxidants. Onions, leeks, shallots, and chives are also considered allium compounds.
Why is broccoli good for us? Broccoli is good because it is considered a glucosinolate? Glucosinolates are a class of phytonutrients. Glucosinolates have been found to be important cancer fighters. Studies show that foods high in glucosinolates reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal, and breast cancer. Glucosinolates are so good at fighting cancer by detoxifying the liver. Brussel sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables are good sources of glucosinolates.
Ellagic acid is a class of phytonutrient. High levels of ellagic acid can be found in strawberries, raspberries, and grapes. This compound neutralizes carcinogens before they can damage DNA. Ellagic acid neutralizes a specific carcinogen found in red meat, nitrosamine. Also, ellagic acid is effective against another common carcinogen, aflatoxin. This carcinogen is found to be in low levels in a number of foods, including peanuts.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and phytonutrient found in tomatoes. Lycopene is credited for giving the tomato its red color. Lycopene is also found in watermelon as well as recognized on your ketchup bottle label. Some tomato plants have actually been bioengineered to contain 3 to 4 times the normal levels of lycopene. These are only a few of the phytonutrients known to health science. There are many more with many different benefits. The secret of phytonutrients has been discovered by health professionals and awaits many to reap the benefits. Maintaining good health is worth the time it takes to add a tomato to a cheese burger or take a liquid vitamin supplement fortified with phytonutrients.