Phytochemicals, also known as plant pigments because of their diversity of colors, are biologically active compounds present in plants. They are also called protective plant chemicals thanks to their effects. Many of them are beneficial to human health in a variety of ways.
The group of phytochemicals contains a wide variety of chemical compounds. So far, we have identified around 12,000 phytochemicals. The exact effects of most of these compounds have not been discovered yet, and it is likely that the majority of them still remain unknown to us. Some experts estimate that one piece of fruit may contain from dozens to hundreds of phytochemicals. This may be the reason why dietary supplements cannot replace the intake of whole natural foods.
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Phytochemicals can be found in all foods of plant origin – for example, fruits, vegetables, nuts, green tea, cocoa beans, curcuma and many other superfoods. Unlike plants, animal sources of food do not contain any phytochemicals, and that is why one’s diet should include plant foods as frequently as possible.
Foods with a High Content of Phytochemicals:
Orange and yellow fruits (such as carrots and apricots) – contain beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A, and have antitumor properties.
Grapes and wine – contain resveratrol and anthocyanidins, chemicals that protect blood vessels and the heart.
Tomatoes – contain lycopene and glutathione. These chemicals are proven to have antioxidant and anticancer effects and help with prevention of prostate cancer.
Walnuts and almonds – contain linoleic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Apples and many other foods – contain tannins, chemicals supporting the healing of wounds and aiding against diarrhea.
Spinach – contains lutein, a compound protecting eyesight.
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