A major area of interest in nutritional science concerns the therapeutic benefits of phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals. These naturally occurring substances give plants their characteristic flavor, color, aroma, and resistance to disease. When consumed, they also help people resist disease.
Thousands of phytonutrients have been identified in fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, algae, and nuts. They have tremendous benefits for people by helping to prevent illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. For example, two phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), known as indole-3 carbinol and sulforaphane, help the body to metabolize toxins and are associated with preventing certain types of cancers.
Flavonoids, found in citrus fruits, protect us against heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Many phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants that protect against cell damage and environmental pollutants. Others also help cells to detoxify more efficiently. For example, green vegetables are high in chlorophyll, a potent detoxifying phytochemical. We need all the support that nature has to offer in our modern but toxic world.
Bottom line: You are what you eat. People who grow up eating whole food diets, including abundant amounts of plant foods, stand a better chance of avoiding cancer, heart disease, and other maladies. Many health benefits of phytochemicals are yet to be discovered.
fruits and vegetables
antioxidant, cancer prevention
arthritis, cancer, circulatory disease
berries, tea (especially green tea)
high cholesterol, cancer, and heart disease prevention
green plants and other colored vegetables
antioxidant, contains vitamin K
anemia, detoxification, burns and wounds, cancer prevention