Phytonutrients are nutrients concentrated in the skins of many vegetables and fruits, and are responsible for their color, hue, scent, and flavor. To a lesser extent, they are also found in grains and seeds. Examples of foods rich in these nutrients include: tomatoes, red onions, green tea, grapes, red cabbage, broccoli, parsley, spinach, raspberry, blackberry, garlic, and the list goes on.
People sometimes mistakenly believe they are vitamins and/or minerals. In fact, they are pigments — or, more precisely, the biologically active constituents of pigments.
How can they benefit you?
In the last few years, phytonutrients have been getting greater attention, as more and more research uncovers just how powerful these nutrients are for our health. They are potent antioxidants that can neutralize free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive chemical substances that, if left unchecked, can lead to premature aging and disease.
Clinical trials are now revealing that phytonutrients can enhance the strength of the immune system, and may play a role in preventing certain cancers.
Other studies have shown that the phytonutrients in blueberries and bilberries slow brain aging and maintain healthy vision in rats.
It has long been known that plant-based nutrients are among the most beneficial of foods to consume a great deal of, and phytonutrients may hold the key to explaining why this is so.
Precautions about Phytonutrients
Unlike vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients do not have any RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) set. However, people should avoid those foods and phytonutrient supplements to which they have a known allergy.
We strongly believe that with continued research, phytonutrients are going to emerge as some of the most important nutrients to consume to boost and maintain optimal health.
Because there is no RDA set for these nutrients, we advise people should look instead to the food pyramid, which recommends 3-5 servings of vegetables daily, and 2-4 servings of fruit. Sadly, the vast majority of people, especially in the Western world, fall woefully short of these guidelines, and, therefore, supplementing with phytonutrient supplements becomes especially crucial.
Indeed, phytonutrient supplements have inherent advantages over certain fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, which can excessively elevate one’s blood sugar levels. Because phytonutrient supplements are only the extract of the pigments — where the nutrients are especially concentrated — they are a superior way to derive the best “essence” of fruits and vegetables, without consuming the excess sugars and calories.