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November 28, 2014  |  Login
Phytonutrients
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
 

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.

Phytochemical

Source

Properties

Conditions

Allylic Sulfides

garlic, onions

detoxification support

cancer

Bioflavonoids

fruits and vegetables

antioxidant, cancer prevention

arthritis, cancer, circulatory disease

Catechins

berries, tea (especially green tea)

antioxidant, detoxification

high cholesterol, cancer, and heart disease prevention

Chlorophyll

green plants and other colored vegetables

antioxidant, contains vitamin K

anemia, detoxification, burns and wounds, cancer prevention

Curcumin

turmeric

anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer

Ellagic Acid

berries, grapes, apples, tea

detoxifying

cancer prevention

Flavoglycosides

ginkgo, black tea

antioxidant, improved blood flow

heart disease, kidney disease, varicose veins, depression, poor memory

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, garlic, bananas

detoxification, increase beneficial bacteria

digestive cinditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, yeast overgrowth, cancer, vaginitis

Gallic Acid

tea, red wine

antioxidant, immune enhancing

infections, heart disease

Glucosinolates

cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts)

detoxifying, hormone balance

cancer prevention, general detoxification

Indoles

cruciferous vegetables(broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts)

detoxifying, hormone balance

cancer prevention (especially hormone dependent, such as breast and prostate)

Isoflavones

soy

hormone balancing

PMS, menopause, cancer prevention

Isothiocyanates

broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish

detoxification

cancer prevention

Lignans

flaxseeds, walnuts

immune enhancement, hormone balance

cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention

Limonoids

citrus fruits and peels

detoxification

cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention

Lycopene

tomatoes, red grapefruit

antioxidant

cancer prevention and treatment

Organosulfur compounds

garlic, onions, chives

antioxidant, immune enhancing, detoxification

cancer and cardiovascular disease prevention, immune system enhancement, general detoxification

Phenolic Acids

broccoli, berries, tomatoes, cabbage, whole grains

antioxidant

cancer prevention

Sulforaphane

cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts)

detoxification, hormone balance

cancer prevention

Terpenes

citrus fruit

anticancer

cancer prevention, ­ hormone balance

 
 
 
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