In my previous articles I have talked a lot about phytonutrients/phytochemicals and how they are important to our overall health. Since this is a relatively new branch of nutrition based research, I wanted to talk a little about what phytonutrients are and what benefits they actually bring to the table (pun intended).
When you break down the word, ‘phyto’ meaning ‘plant’, and ‘nutrient’ meaning a substance that nourishes a living being, it is pretty self explanatory. Together the word phytonutrient refers to the approximate 100,000 chemicals that occur naturally in plants and help protect them from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats. When we consume these phytonutrients, we are able to reap the benefits of their protective functions. Some of the more popular of phytonutrients we have been able to study include carotenoids, flavonoids, resveratrol, ellagic acid, glucosinolates, and phytoestrogens. Each of these have different properties, colors and benefits and can be found in different types of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas. Even more interesting is that some phytonutrients are absorbed better if they are consumed with fat, water or paired with certain other phytochemicals. This is why it is important to have a varied and colorful diet, to ensure that you are feeding your body a healthy spectrum of nutrients and allowing them their best chance of absorption.
An easy way to get a boost of phytonutrients into your daily routine is by making a smoothie for breakfast or a quick afternoon snack. Try this delicious peach smoothie recipe to get started! Remember, you can use any fresh fruits and vegetables you have around the house to help keep an exciting and varied diet.
Citrus Ginger Peach with Green Tea
Yield: 16 oz. – Recommended 8 oz. serving size
In a high power blender combine:
1 cup green tea, brewed and chilled
1 whole orange, peel removed
1 whole lemon, peel removed
1 whole peach, cut in half and remove the pit (Mango also works nicely)
2 small chunks frozen banana (about 1/3 of a banana)
Blend until smooth and enjoy the sunrise!
Tip: Brew a little extra tea when you have your afternoon cup and put the extra in a jar to chill in the fridge and use in your smoothie the next morning. You can also pour tea into ice cube trays and use the ‘tea ice’ in your smoothies to make a frosty drink.
Source: Jenna Ortner, aka Lambchop
Below is a quick introduction to which phytonutrients are found in fresh fruits and vegetables and what their benefits are. I encourage you to check out the links at the bottom and do some research on your own to learn more about phytochemicals and how you can incorporate them into your daily life. Cheers!