You’ve probably heard the term “phytonutrients” thrown around before but are unsure of what they are. Phytonutrients are nutrients that are found in plants, and they play a significant role in human health. They promote health on many different levels, supporting your immune system, strengthening your bones, boosting your mood and helping you sleep better. Some can be found in the produce in your grocery store, while others are made into natural supplements like CBD products.
You can find phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, spices, teas and even chocolate. Yes, they all contain phytonutrients!
In this article, we’re going to take a look at building a meal plan around phytonutrients. But before we do that, let’s take a look at what phytonutrients are precisely and how this particular group of nutrients benefits your health.
What Are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are non-nutritive plant-based compounds that provide the color, flavor, smell of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. They offer a host of different benefits to support good health. This is due to their potent antioxidant properties, which help protect our bodies from free radical damage. Free radicals can cause serious harm to cells and tissues, leading to various diseases, including cancer.
Because they’re not essential to our diet (we can still live without them), the Food and Drug Administration isn’t required to be put on food labels. This can cause a problem when it comes to determining how much of these powerful nutrients we get in our food. Honestly, though, the trick is to focus on incorporating the right foods, so you don’t have to worry about getting enough of each.
We can find phytonutrients in apples, beets and broccoli, and the list goes on! It’s essential to make sure we’re eating a variety of them daily, preferably from whole foods, because they may work synergistically with one another to create even more outstanding health support than they could on their own.
Groups of Phytonutrients
Carotenoids, polyphenols, bioflavonoids and isothiocyanates are probably some of the most well-known groups of phytonutrients. But there are even more out there, like the many cannabinoids you’ll find in a full spectrum CBD tincture. Nevertheless, we’ll stick to the most well-known here.
Here’s some information on the most common phytonutrient groups:
Carotenoids – Found in carrots, apricots and squash, carotenoids are a class of phytonutrients that create the orange, red and yellow pigment in our food. Some of the most commonly known carotenoids include lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein. In addition, carotenoids are known for their antioxidant activity, supporting the immune system by quelling inflammation.