We all hear about the value of eating our fruits and veggies. Lets take a look at the power of phytonutrients’.
Phytonutrients are from plants (phyto means from plants in Greek) and are neither vitamins nor minerals. Phytochemical simply means plant chemicals. Researchers estimate there are 30,000 to 50,000 of these, 1,000 of which have been isolated, and a mere 100 analyzed and tested. Modern science now believes phytonutrients are what defend and protect our trillions of cells from disease. The number of phytonutrients in a single, unprocessed, plant food is remarkable. When we eat these plants, the phytonutrients protect the bloodstream, cells, tissues, membranes, mitochondria, skin, organs and immune system functions from the onslaught of synthetic chemicals, toxins, automobile or factory emissions, bacteria, pesticides, viruses, fungi, yeast, microbes, mutagens, food additives, free radicals and carcinogens.
Nature has designed plants with successful defense mechanisms. For example, the sulfur in onions and garlic repel bugs, and deep orange colored foods like carrots, apricots and squash contain beta-carotene to protect them from strong sunlight. This amazing natural system benefits us as well.
Well known phytonutrients indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, found in cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli and kale, are recognized for the role they play in protection against cancer, and in particular, breast cancer.
Turmeric is a powerful carcinogenic inhibitor, with its natural occurring curcumin. Resveratol, found in the skin and pulp of dark grapes, has been researched extensively by the University of Chicago, and is said to contain powerful cancer inhibiting qualities as well.
Lycopene, one of the thousands of phytonutrients in tomatoes is a cancer preventing antioxidant, due to its ability to interfere with the production of nitrosamines, implicated in the development of stomach cancer.
Allylic sulfides in garlic and onions have been shown in the lab to inhibit tumor production.
The following is a list of some foods and their phytonutrients:
Onions, garlic, leeks, chives: allium and organosulphur compounds.
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale: indoles, and isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane.
Blueberries, plums, dark beans: anthocyanins.
Carrots, yam, cantaloupe, winter squash: carotenoids.
Citrus fruits, tomatoes: coumarins.
Anise and licorice: glyceritinic acid.
Beans and other legumes: isoflavones, protease inhibitors, saponins.
Whole grains; brown rice, oats, wheat, rye: lignans, phenolic acids, inositols.
Nuts and seeds: lignans.
Citrus fruit: limonene.
Tomatoes and red grapefruit: lycopene.
Cocoa, tea, and most fruits and veggies: phenols.
Now, we have lots of reasons to make multiple trips to the salad bar, and to embrace the many new raw food creations that are popping up. Why not try the following recipes for a boost to your health?
1 large avocado
1 medium tomato
1 small green onion, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice (use less for less tang)
1 tsp unrefined sea salt
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
1/8 tsp crushed red peppers or dash of Tabasco
1 tsp Tamari soy sauce.
Use wheat-free Tamari for gluten-free.
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
1 tbsp parsley, optional
1. Chop vegetables.
2. Place all ingredients in a blender.
3. Purée at low speed.
Great dip for corn chips.
– from Eat Away Illness by Paulette Millis.
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups buckwheat groats
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce.
Use wheat-free Tamari for gluten-free
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
optional chopped tomatoes
1. Place the broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Add the washed buckwheat and cook, covered, over
medium heat until tender, approximately 15 minutes.
3. Set aside to cool.
4. Combine the cucumber, parsley, shrimp, almonds, and
cooled buckwheat in a bowl.
5. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, and Tamari.
6. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to coat.
7. Let stand 1 hour in the fridge before serving.
8. Decorate with almonds, tomato wedges and shrimp if
From Eat Away Illness by Paulette Millis
References: High Performance Nutrition, Susan Kleiner, Ph. D, RD.; Sam Graci, Alive, 2002, author of The Food Connection; Powerfoods, Stephanie Beling, M.D.
Author, Speaker & Registered Nutritional Consultant