What’s lacking in your healthy diet may surprise you.
You already know about the benefits of getting vitamins, minerals and fiber by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, but are you aware that there are also thousands of other naturally occurring compounds in these same foods that offer health benefits?
These organic components are called phytonutrients, derived from the Greek word (phyto) for plant. Plants produce these phytonutrients to protect themselves from disease, predators, and extreme environmental conditions – but they also have great benefits for you!
The largest class of phytonutrients is the polyphenols, which include flavonoids such as catechin (found in dark chocolate and green tea) and stilbenes such as resveratrol (found in red wine). Another major class is the terpenes, which include carotenoids such as lycopene (the red pigment in tomatoes) and monoterpenes such as capsaicin (the active in ingredient in chili peppers). Thiols or sulfur-containing compounds include phytonutrients like allicin (found in garlic) and glucosinolates (rich in pungent plants like horseradish).
So what does this mean?
A large portion of these compounds are associated with antioxidant properties and help to support overall health and well-being. However, many of us aren’t eating enough whole fruits and vegetables in our diet to experience the wide variety of benefits that come from phytonutrients. By maintaining a diet rich in fruits and veggies, you’ll provide your body with a plethora of beneficial compounds, including phytonutrients and all the benefits that come with them.Bottom line: Make sure to enjoy your fruits and veggies at every eating occasion! Tweet This!