"Phytonutrients" sounds technical but it refers to plant-based nutrients. Plants contain natural substances that provide specific health benefits, aside from the more familiar vitamins and minerals. Taste, smell and color of plant foods are results of phytonutrients. Flavonoids, a group of phytonutrients, are largely responsible for the natural pigment of foods. Anthocyanins (anthocyanidins) is a subtype of flavonoids that produce the blues, reds and purples of foods; while flavones and flavonols cause many (but not all) of the yellows. Chlorophyll of course, gives plants their green colors. There are many other categories and subtypes of phytonutrients (thousands of phytonutrients exist), along with features of plant cells that contribute to the appearance of plant food. Why is this important? Well, it has everything to do with identifying the nourishment of your food. Individuals who consciously incorporate diverse color in their food intake are likely aware of this.
Phytonutrients help protect both plants and our bodies from toxins and other free radicals. They behave differently for various parts of the body. Just as you would pick out particular produce for it's vitamin benefits, phytonutrients can be approached the same way. That's what makes the color of our plant foods important. Representation. We are able to identify what each piece of fruit or vegetable has to offer in terms of our health. What are some of the advantages of phytonutrients?
Research into these compounds have shown that they can protect against some types of cancer, help you manage cholesterol, boost the immune system (most common), assist in DNA damage repair, serve as an anti-inflammatory and help support brain health. There are other advantages of phytonutrients that are worth informing yourself on. If nothing else, know that they provide powerful antioxidants to aid in keeping you healthy. Phytonutrients also impact through synergy, which is an important topic to visit in the future.
If you are a former client of mine, you know that I encourage raw food intake of fruits and vegetables. Please note that cooking plant foods will decrease nutritional value. A fun and tasty way to make sure you're getting enough color and raw foods is to juice or create smoothies. Also, be aware of where your foods are grown and what chemicals are involved in the process. Lastly, here are a few pointers on the colors of phytonutrients to consider when shopping for fruits and vegetables:
Reds: DNA Repair, Cancer Prevention
Greens: Heart, Lung and Liver Function. Wound Healing.
Whites: Circulatory System, Heart and Cancer.
Purple/Blue: Cognitive Function, Heart Health, Bone Health, Aging.
Yellow/Orange: Immune Support, Eye Health, Development.
Stephanie Powers, MSc, LCDC, Holistic Nutritionist
(Not promoting any cures through this blog. Please continue to follow directions from your practitioner.)
Haas, E. M., & Levin, B. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition the complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.