Are you consuming enough chemical compounds in your diet? Are you eating enough chemicals such as: Polyphenols, Phytates, Sulfides and Thiols, Terpenes, Phenols, Isothiocyanates and Indoles, Saponins and Cyclic Compounds? Sound Nuts? Believe it! The American diet is sadly deficient in all of these phytochemicals.
So what are phytochemicals? Phyto comes from the Greek for plant. So phytochemicals are organic nutrients from plants. Many prefer the term phytonutrient. It is said that Hippocrates used a tea made from willow tree leaves to lessen fever. Plant extracts, made from willow bark and spiraea (meadowsweet) have the active ingredient salicylic acid. In 1852 an early form of asprin was synthesized from salicylic acid. So, Phytochemicals or Phytonutrients are organic chemicals from plants like fruits and vegetables thought to promote well being and have been utilized in healing for centuries. In contemporary times population studies link eating larger amounts of raw fruits and vegetables with lesser risks of chronic disease, some cancers and heart disease.
Phytonutrients such as Carotenoids have been linked to lowered risk of stroke and Flavonoids have been linked to lower risk of heart disease. Lutein is concentrated in the macula. The natural elevated amount of Lutein is thoughtto protect the eyes from oxidation and damage from high--energy blue light. Diindolylmethane is being tested as an aide against repeated respiratory tumors, cervical dysplasia, and prostate cancer. A phytonutrient compound from the Pacific yew tree eventually became an significant cancer drug paclitaxel. So, phytonutrients are extremely important in medicine. Phytonutrient interest in the medical field is rising. More information on the positive benefits of phytonutrients to health is being discovered daily. But, additional research will need to be completed before increased consumption of phytonutrients will be accepted as prevention for any disease.
Perhaps there is inadequate evidence for some that documents the health benefits of phytonutrient rich foods. However for now, it appears that an effective strategy for reducing risk of chronic ailments, cancer and heart disease could be to increase consumption of phytonutrient--rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, legumes, grains and teas. Many, it is said, phytonutrients are strong antioxidants that help fight the damage caused to our bodies' cells over time leading to premature aging and chronic disease. Unfortunately, Americans simply do not eat an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables or a large enough variety of fruits and vegetables, which could be resulting in phytonutrient deficiencies and serious widespread health problems. The good news is that media and consumer interest in phytonutrient--rich foods is ahead of the game.
Only a few phytonutrients have been researched. However, estimates of the still undiscovered and unstudied phytonutrients are in the tens of thousands. So, how can you increase your chances of eating a good variety and quantity of these natural health--improving nutrients? Well thatís simple! Add fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables to your diet and try foods in all the hues of the rainbow. Phytonutrients are the colors in food. So to get a variety of phytonutrients, eat a variety of hues. As an example, bell peppers come in red, yellow, green and purple. Select green and white teas and consume purple, red and green grapes. Even the phytonutrient composition of fruits, vegetables and nuts can change between different varieties. Broaden your color spectrum, broaden your variety and broaden the kinds of fresh plant foods and you will maximize your chances of getting more of the phytonutrients your body needs.
Freshly harvested plant foods are filledwith the nutrients you need. But, a word of warning, though there are some exceptions such as tomatoes, many phytonutrients are destroyed or removed from foods by modern processing techniques and even cooking. So whatís the answer? Eating raw food! Eat raw vegatables, nuts and fruits to receive the optimum benefits from your phytonutrients. Eating raw foods of varied colors, kinds and varieties is your best chance to get the health enhancing, health conserving and healing benefits of these wonderful natural foods.