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General Knowledge on Phytochemicals

Updated on January 6, 2012

Awesome foods!

Okay I am sure you have been hearing about cancer preventing foods, and antioxidant type foods. Antioxidants are substances which help in preventing inflammation and cellular damage. So tell me, what do you know about them? Here are a few things about these foods.

Plant foods with more than health benefits are known as Phytochemicals (Fight-o-chemicals). Animal foods with these same benefits are known as Zoochemicals. Both are great foods. In this article I will be discussing solely on Phytochemicals.

I am sure you know that Phytochemicals come in a variety of colors. Colors are important when choosing a meal. The more variety of colors of fruits and vegetables, the more the natural phytochemicals in them, and the more beneficial they will be to your health.

These classes of foods are great because not only are they beneficial to your health, but they can provide some cancer preventing properties and antioxidant like properties to your health. Phytochemicals can be classed into the following groups:

1. Carotenoids: These consist of orange, yellow and red fruits and vegetables. The most common carotenoid is known as Beta Carotene. You can find these in carrots, yellow squash, mangos, papaya, tomatoes, red or yellow bell pepper and green leafy vegetables.

2. Flavonoids: These consist of foods such as soybean, nuts, seeds and flaxseed.

3. Alliums and Indoles: Indoles are vegetables and fruits that have cross like leaf shape to their flowers therefore are noted as cruciferous vegetables. They consist of broccoli, cauliflower, beets, etc. Indoles are also important because they help in the bioactivation and conjugation of certain food poisons to make them less potent to be removed in the urine. Alliums are plants like garlic, onions, etc. They have antioxidant like functions and are known to prevent heart disease and diabetes.

4. Phytoestrogens: These are plant foods that when absorbed from the intestine, have properties which resemble that of estrogen. So they can block estrogen receptors and possibly prevent breast cancers.

5. Reservatrol: In red grapes. It is thought to help prevent heart disease.

6. Curcumin: In turmeric and cumin spices. These have antioxidant like properties.

7. Anthocyanins: Seen in blueberries and in other dark colored fruits and vegetables. These are known to be great antioxidants.

These are just a few of the commonly used phytochemicals found. For more on Phytochemicals, check out these links:

Any comments or suggestions are very much welcomed.


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