Phytonutrients are compounds found in some plants that are otherwise called phytochemicals. These are compounds that are not known to be essential to the human body, but they can have benefit if ingested. You do not need them, but you may find surprising benefits to your health and even weight loss efforts if you include some of these in your daily menu. Research is on going for possible benefits for fighting diseases and other medical conditions with phytonutrients.
If you eat a vegetarian diet, you may already be reaping the identical benefits of these phytonutrients. Some are said to help ward off cancer, and others may have anti-inflammatory benefits that could help those with conditions like arthritis. There could also be benefits with phytochemicals that help with conditions like weakened immune system or thyroid conditions. There are nine classes of these phytonutrients, each having a different effect on the above mentioned conditions.
Carotenoids are just one of those nine classes. This class is probably the most well known to people, even if they do not know these by the carotenoids label. These can be described as the colored pigments that make up most of the colors found in fruits and vegetables. These fight against cancer and some heart problems. To get these benefits eat more apples, citrus, peaches, tomato, watermelon, many green vegetables, apricots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes.
Other sources of phytochemicals (phytonutrients) for health benefits would be various herbal teas, wine, soy products, berries (like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries), and leafy green vegetables. Research is ongoing to see if phytonutrients have any real effect on DNA repair due to damage from free radicals like pollution and smoking, altering estrogen metabolism, speeding up and enhancing immune system response to disease and injury, and general body detoxification.
Although research is ongoing, do not wait for the results before you start upping your fruit and vegetable intake each day. Even if these claims have no basis in truth, fruits and vegetables are good for the body in many proven ways. If losing weight, these take up more space in the stomach, make you feel fuller faster and longer, and can give you everything your body needs. If you eat enough, you are going to feel and look better, and you are going to eat less of the empty calorie foods that sabotage even the best dieter's intentions. Eat them for all the right reasons, and you could get the benefits of a longer and healthier life as well.