Summer is here, which means that there is a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in supermarkets and farmer’s markets. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) actually reported that only 15% of adults consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day. The rest fall short and aren’t absorbing the nutrients from these beneficial foods.
There has been a steady decline in the consumption of fresh food and an increased consumption of sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. This has lead to increased rates of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Supplementing your diet with multivitamins and minerals isn’t the same as getting your anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties from the phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are chemical compounds that give fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds, grains, and legumes their color. Darker colors indicate higher concentrations of phytochemicals; however, white vegetables like onions, garlic, and cauliflower also contain high concentrations of phytonutrients. There are thousands of phytonutrients and they can be classified into five major groups. These can include carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), phenolics (quercetin, luteolin, and genisten), alkaloids, nitrogen-containing compounds, and organosulfur compounds (indoles and glucosinolates).
How Do You Get Phytonutrients?
You get them by eating plant-based foods! Each plant contains thousands of different phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants to protect the body from damaging free radicals. Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods, which contain phytonutrients, can help to reduce blood pressure, improve vision, decrease inflammation, lower cholesterol, and inhibit cell damage. Below you’ll find a list of the different colors of phytonutrients.
You can get these phytonutrients from things like apples, radishes, grapefruit, cherries, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, and pomegranates. The phytonutrients include quercertin, ellagic acid, anthocyanidins, lycopene, and hesperidin. These help support a healthy prostate, urinary tract, and DNA health.
These phytonutrients are beneficial for eye health, arterial function, healthy lungs, liver health, and overall cell health. They work to promote healthy gums and help with wound healing. The phytonutrients are lutein, isoflavones, EGCG, indoles, sulphoraphane, and isothiocyanates. Get them by eating broccoli, kale, spinach, kiwis, honeydew, avocados, and lettuce.
Great for eye health, immune function, and growth development, these phytonutrients can be found in pineapples, peaches, papaya, bananas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, and lemons. These phytonutrients include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, hesperidin, and beta cryptoxanthi.
Roughly 76% of people don’t eat enough purple/blue vegetables, which are beneficial for the heart, brain, bones, arteries, and overall cognitive health. Some of the phytonutrients include resveratrol, phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanidins. You can get them by eating eggplants, red onion, plums, blueberries, black berries, and red grapes.
These phytonutrients are replete in white onions, pears, mushrooms, garlic, white beans, and cauliflower. Phytonutrients like EGCG, allicin, quercetin, indoles, and glucosinolates work to support the circulatory system, healthy bones, arterial function, and they help fight heart disease and cancerous cells.