CHENNAI: Phytonutrients are nature’s natural defense. These chemicals protect plants from germs, bugs, fungi, molds and sun. Plant-based foods have thousands of natural chemicals, these are called phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Each phytonutrients comes from different plant sources and have different positive effects. There are thousands of phytonutrients present in plant based foods.
Some of the most common phytonutrients are:
- Ellagic acid
These are pigments responsible for yellow, orange, bright red colours in foods such as sweet potato, carrot, potato, papaya, watermelon, mangoes, tomato, bell pepper. Carotenoid act as type of antioxidants.
Common carotenoids include beta carotene, alpha carotene, lutein.
- Improves cardio health
- Prevent s cancer cell growth
- Essential to improve immunity and eye problems
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants and found in almost all vegetables and fruits such as onion, berries, tomato, broccoli, apple, cocoa, celery, peppermint, lemon, orange.
- Decrease risk of diabetes
- Prevents cancer cells from multiplying
- Reduces inflammations
Phytoestrogens are plantbased oestrogens found in broccoli, legumes, orange, soy, tea, flaxseeds, dried fruits, sesame seeds, garlic, berries, cruciferous vegetables, etc.
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Helps relieve menstrual issues
- Good for heart
- Improves health during menopause
Ellagic acid is a polyphenol found in fruits and vegetables such as berries, grapes, pomegranate,
guava, walnuts, mushrooms, green tea.
- Reduces growth of tumour cells
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces effects of obesity
Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in peanuts, pistachios, grapes, cocoa, dark chocolate and blueberries.
- May lower blood pressure
- Protects the brain from age–related diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
- Decreases inflammation
Phytonutrients are non-vitamin and non-mineral components of foods but have significant health benefits. They are not essential for keeping you alive but when you include phytonutrients-rich foods in your diet they can help keep your body to work properly and may help prevent various diseases.
Divya Purushotham sanonutritionclinic
The writer is founder and chief nutritionist at Sano Holistic Nutrition Clinic