Phytonutrients are naturally occurring plant compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color, taste and smell. And, they provide us with numerous health protective properties. More and more studies are showing that the risk of major chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and some cancers can be reduced with diets rich in plant phytonutrients. To get a variety of phytonutrients in your diet, I recommend eating at least two servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables daily. And, include lots of spices in your diet, such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, and oregano. Here is a list of my 5 favorite plant compounds:
1) Anthocyanidins (purple / blue pigments found in grapes, blueberries, blackberries, etc.) – powerful antioxidants that protect cells, support healthy aging, and promote collagen and blood vessel health.
2) Curcumin (found in the spice turmeric) – exhibits powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activity. An exciting recent study found that pre-treatment with curcumin made ovarian cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.
3) Glucosinolates / Indoles (found in cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.) – provide powerful cancer protection by activating the liver’s ability to detoxify harmful substance.
4) Quercetin (found in the skin of apples and red onions) – antioxidant that has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
5) Allicin (found in garlic, onions, scallions, and other members of the allium family) – has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, as well as cardiovascular protective propertie.