Phytonutrients: The Healing Power of Food
Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals that are produced as part of their normal metabolic activities. These chemicals are called “phytonutrients” and help to increase a plant’s vitality and protect it from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.
Not only do phytonutrients benefit plants, it also have the ability to provide benefits to those who enjoy eating plant food. There are thousands of phytonutrients in our food supply and eating the minimum requirement of five fruit or vegetables per day can have a huge impact on our health because it's health-promoting properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and liver-health-promoting activities.
Scientists have confirmed that the intake of certain foods like fruit, vegetables and legumes, is highly protective against many different diseases, including chronic degenerative diseases. Until the arrival of the pharmaceutical industry in the 19th century, most medicinal remedies came from plants.
Fruits and vegetables are concentrated sources of phytonutrients; other plant foods like whole grains, legumes/beans, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices also contain phytonutrients.
Since many phytonutrients serve as the pigment that gives foods their hue, you can identify many phytonutrient-rich foods by looking at their colour.
BLUE / PURPLE
Blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, black currants and red cabbage are rich in flavonoids and helps with healthy ageing, urinary tract health and memory function.
It also contains powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of age related memory loss, help control high blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes complications, reduce the risk of heart attacks and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.Prunes, raisins, plums and aubergine may even slow down the effects of ageing!
YELLOW / ORANGE
Carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, papaya, mangos, apricots, peaches and melon are rich in beta-carotene and guarantees vision health and a healthy immune system.
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, nectarines, pears, pineapple, yellow raisins and yellow peppers work with vitamin C to reduce the risk of heart attacks and cancer. It helps maintain strong bones and teeth, healthy skin and good vision.
RED / PINK
Tomatoes, guavas and watermelon are rich in lycopene and will give you a healthy heart and circulation, urinary tract health and memory function.
Red raspberries, sweet cherries, strawberries, cranberries, beets, red apples and cabbage, red onion, kidney beans and red beans reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes complications, helps control blood pressure and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Kale, spinach and collard greens are rich in chlorophyll for strong bones (preventing arthritis), teeth and again vision health.
Broccoli, cabbage, brusselsprouts, bok choy, rocket, turnips, watercress and cauliflower and reduce the risk of cancer (particularly breast and prostate cancers).
Not all phytonutrients give colour and it's important to not overlook some off-white foods like garlic, onions, scallions and leeks which are rich in powerful sulfur-containing phytonutrients for a healthy heart and cholesterol levels, and boost immunity.
Source: National Cancer Institute, NHS