Apr
08
2010

Phytonutrients – Super Nutrition Through Plant Foods

Phytonutrients are powerful and vital nutrients found in plant foods, particularly fruit and vegetables. Research has demonstrated that  obtaining adequate amounts of these nutrients on a daily level is vital to achieving long-term health and longevity.

Nature’s foods are often colour-coded to represent the nutrients that are contained within them. For instance red fruits and vegetables such as tomato, red capsicum, cherries and raspberries contain powerful nutrients such as resveratrol , lycopene and quecertin. Resveratrol has been shown to activate a “longevity gene” that appears to have a significant effect on life span. It also appears to block cancer-promoting genes and protect against heart and blood vessel disease.

Green vegetables such as parsley, lettuce, arugula and lettuce contain other important phytonutrients such as indole-3-carbinol (which has powerful effects in preventing breast and prostate cancer), zeazanthin (which is important for maintaining eye health and preventing macular degeneration), thiocyanates and more. They also contain the important nutrient chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green colour of these foods, and are also loaded with minerals.

Orange foods such as carrots, oranges and squash contain an important class of nutrients call carotenoids. They include beta-carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A. Blue foods include anthocyanins and are found in blueberries and blue-green algae. Each of these colour groups also represents one of the chakra, or energy centre of the body.
Getting a good spread from the various colour groups throughout the day ensures that you have a good selection of phytonutrients to boost your system throughout the day. The standard recommendation of two serves of fruit and five serves of numberswiki.com

vegetables a day probably can be seen as an absolute minimum. One serve is approximately equal to a fist-sized serving.

Importantly, the majority of phytonutrients are degraded to some extent by cooking the food. With some foods, the loss can be up to 80%. Although there are rare exceptions, such as lycopene, which seems higher in tomato sauce than fresh tomatoes, in general one is wise to eat most vegetables in the raw state.  These foods are highest in water content, minerals, enzymes and electrical energy.

A great way to start the day is by getting a phytonutrient rich smoothie or shake, rather than the standard western practices of eating grains and sugars first thing up. This will set you up on the right foot towards  getting a good spread of phytonutrients for the day. Adding a vegetable juice through the day, particular one emphasizing green vegetables such as celery and cucumber is another huge boost.  As Victoria Boutenko states in “Green For Life”, green vegetables are an important missing factor in the current Western diet. They allow us to remineralize, alkalize and reach our highest potential.

In fact, the standard advice of having two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day is an absolute minimum. One serve is around a fist-sized portion. Adding vegetable juice or somoothies into our regime is a sure way of assuring we get well above this “minimum level”. Adding high nutrient “superfoods” such as berries, maca or spirulina take us even further towards reaching a level of super nutrition capable of turning around any chronic health complaint.

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