What are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals, are naturally occurring substances in plants that are responsible for their color, hue, aroma, flavor, and natural resistance to disease. In fact, the term "phyto" originates from a Greek word meaning plant.
We get the health benefits of phytonutrients from plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and legumes.
Although these plant nutrients are not yet classified as essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, water, proteins, fats etc., substances necessary for sustaining life, they contain properties that aid in disease prevention. Therefore, technically they are classified as a "non-nutrient" – hence the name phytochemicals.
However, don't be fooled by the term "non essential," phytonutrients are "powerhouse fighters" since they appear to promote health by sparking body processes that fight or slow down the development of diseases. Moreover, essentials are just that — essential - nothing more.
It's important to note that more than 900 different phytochemicals have been identified as components of food and one serving of a fruit or vegetable may have as many as 100 different phytochemicals.
How Can Phytonutrients Benefit You?
Thanks to research that's been done over the last few decades, we know many of the disease preventing and powerful health enhancing benefits of these substances.
For example, phytonutrients are a source of an incredibly diverse array of antioxidants. In fact, many of these phytonutrients harbor potent antioxidant activity, far exceeding the well-known vitamin antioxidant properties of
vitamins E and C.
For instance, let's take a look at the phyonutrients found in green tea. Green tea contains antioxidant flavonoids know as polyphenols such as catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and quercitin. However, of all of these, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) appears to promote the strongest antioxidant activity. Researchers found that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is over 200 times more powerful as an antioxidant than the almighty vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals.
Why does the body need antioxidants?
The body needs antioxidants because with every breath you take you generate free radicals, which are highly reactive substances that can attack and damage cells if not tightly controlled. Many experts believe that free radicals are major factors leading to more than sixty different health diseases including heart disease and cancer, as well as premature aging.
Here are a few other examples of the power of phytonutrients ….…..
The phytonutrient called d-glucarate has shown to promote detoxification in the body by helping the liver metabolize pesticides, hormones, carcinogens, and other toxins. This is critical to the prevention of disease and to overall health. D-glucarate is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
The carotenoids found in yellow, orange, green, and red fruits and vegetables appear to help in the prevention of certain cancers, heart disease, and age related macular degeneration. Carotenoids also exert powerful antioxidant activity and beta-carotene - which is a family member, converts into helpful vitamin A.
The phytonutrient lycopene, which is a member of the carotenoid family and the pigment that gives tomatoes their brilliant red color, is believed to offer protection against certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach.
In addition to the aforementioned suggested benefits, phytonutrients may enhance cell-to-cell communication, alter estrogen metabolism, and enhance the strength of the immune system.
Researches have long recognized that diets rich in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes appear reduce the risk of a number of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension when compared to diets high in meat.
What Foods Are Rich In Phytonutrients?
The Top 12 Phytonutrient Rich Foods: soy, tomato, broccoli, garlic, flaxseeds, citrus fruits, watermelon, pink grapefruit, blueberries, sweet potatoes, chilli peppers, legumes (beans, peas, lentils).
Other Foods Rich In Phytonutrients: cranberries, green tea, red grapes and wine, papaya, carrots, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, artichoke, onions, apples, spinach, mangos, pumpkin, eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, dried apricots, squash, nuts, and seeds.
However, it's important to note that different phytonutrients offer different benefits. Therefore, we believe it is best to get these disease-fighting nutrients from
eating a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as from a rainbow of colors. Now, with that being said, it is also important to note that some of these nutrients are also helpful for specific conditions.
For example, the phytonutrient lycopene is often recommended by Naturopaths and other like-minded experts for the prevention and in the treatment of prostate cancer. Therefore, men may want to pay particular attention in boosting tomatoes and tomato based foods such as ketchup, pizza sauce, tomato juice and tomato paste, which are the richest source of lycopene.
Here is another example: The phytonutrient called Isoflavones is often used as an alternative to
hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It harbors powerful phytoestrogen compounds that help fight menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes. Moreover, it also appears to protect against heart disease, and stave off certain cancers and osteoporosis. Isoflavones is found in soy products and in the red clover herb.
Recommended Daily Allowance
Since phytonutrients is technically a "non-nutrient" there are no RDA guidelines on daily consumption. However, we advise you to follow the recently revised 2005 food pyramid which recommends 3-5 servings of vegetables daily, and 2-4 servings of fruit.
Another alternative is Harvard's updated Healthy Eating Pyramid at www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource and
click on food pyramid.
Unfortunely, the vast majority of people, especially in the Western world, fall extremely short on the recommended daily allowance guidelines on fruits and vegetables, and, as such, would benefit by supplementing their diet with a phytonutrient supplement.
Tips On Choosing A Phytonutrient Supplement
1. Select a supplement that is formulated by a company that follows strict pharmaceutical GMP compliance.
Because dietary supplements are not strictly regulated in the U.S. and, as such, manufacturers do not have to guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or even the true content of their products.
The result is that you, as the consumer only have a 1 in 5 chance of buying a product that contains what is stated on the label or one that does not harbor harmful contaminates.
Facilities that are pharmaceutical GMP compliant adhere to stringent regulatory standards.
2. Select a supplement created by a highly credentialed formulator.
Why is this so critical?
Because different phytonutrients offer different types of benefits so the ingredients must be carefully selected. In addition, the ratios of one ingredient to another can make a significant difference on how well any supplement will work. Therefore, it requires a highly credentialed formulator -- someone who is qualified to create a supplement with ingredients that work together synergistically in a perfect balance to offer the maximum results.
If you have a known allergy or sensitivity to any phytonutrient dietary food sources, including sources used in supplements, consumption should be avoided.
Featured Comprehensive Formula
One company that produces a product that meets the above requirements -- and more -- is Xtend-Life from New Zealand. Their flagship formula called Total Balance contains numerous of powerful phytonutrient extracts such as anthocyanins, catechins,
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and more.
Total Balance however, is not just a phytonutrient product. It is also packed full of the most sophisticated specialty nutrients, potent antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal extracts, enzymes and more. In fact, this highly sophisticated product contains over 70 powerful CELL FUELING nutrients that the body needs for optimium 'whole' body health!
Total Balance is formulated by a highly credentialed scientific team that can blend these ingredients perfectly to ensure maximum benefits, but as importantly that do not interact adversely. Plus, Total Balance is enteric coated to protect all of these ingredients against stomach acids and to ensure maximum bio-availability.
The company only uses standardized herbal extracts, the purest herbal extracts with the highest quality and therapeutic benefits, and they adhere to strict pharmaceutical GMP compliance, which is the toughest in the industry.
We here at Nutritional-Supplement-Educational-Centre have been taking Total Balance for several years now and can personally attest to its excellent results such as an increase in energy levels, mental clarity, and an increase feeling of well-being.
We hope this webpage discussing phytonutrients was useful to you.
To Your Health!
Much more than Phytonutrients can be found at our Vitamin Information webpage