With all of the dangerous side-effects that come from pharmaceutical drugs, it’s no wonder that many people are starting to turn to more natural healing alternatives. The natural, bioactive chemicals found in fruits and vegetables are called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients health benefits have unmatched potential.
What Are Phytonutrients?
Plants have to put up defenses against environmental dangers such as ultraviolet rays or damage from pests. Phytonutrients are the chemicals plants release to protect them, and research has found that these nutrients are also beneficial for humans as well.
There are many types of phytonutrients. Beta-carotene, lycopene, and xanthones are all phytonutrients that have proven health benefits. Fruits and vegetables have high concentrations of phytonutrients, but legumes and grains also contain minimal amounts. You can usually tell if a fruit has high phytonutrient content because they are dark in color. Think blueberries, spinach, papaya, tomatoes, guava, or mangosteen.
One plant can contain many different kinds of phytonutrients,making it a super food. Mangosteen, a tropical, dark-purple fruit with a soft, white flesh inside, has been used as a medicinal agent for centuries in Southeast Asia. The fruit rind has been used for conditions like diarrhea or bladder infections. And that’s just scratching the surface. Researchers have found at least 900 different phytonutrients, and there are more that remain undiscovered. Some researchers have even estimated that some 40,000 phytochemicals could exist in nature.
What Can Phytonutrients Do for You?
It goes without saying that people that eat more fruits and vegetables are healthier and live longer. Eating a balanced diet can decrease the chance of contracting diseases like heart disease, cancer, and many other illnesses. The research has only begun to discover that phytonutrients play a big part in your bodies’ ability to fight off disease. Not only that, but by singling out or combining the most beneficial phytonutrients, you can also fight off or prevent specific diseases.
Take the mangosteen fruit, for example. It contains a phytochemical known as xanthones. It contains a wealth of health benefits including maintaining digestive health, supporting your immune system, and it even supports cartilage and joint function.
How to Integrate Phytochemicals into Your Diet
You can’t go wrong when you try to include more phytochemicals in your diet. The good news is that it’s easy to do. During the summer and fall, the local farmers’ market is teeming with fruits and vegetables that can improve your health. Look for foods with deep colors. Don’t be afraid to try new things either. You should aim for five servings of fruits and veggies a day so stick with some of your old favorites and add some new ones to the diet as well.
Not only can you increase your fruit and vegetable intake, but some companies make juices or supplements to jump start your phytochemical intake. You can focus your diet on issues that you want to improve, like bone health or immune system well-being. With research, you can enjoy the phytonutrients health benefits in your own life.