- Improve your immune function
- Stop toxic substances from becoming carcinogens in your body
- Protect and repair your DNA
- Reduce inflammation
- Normalize hormone levels
- Slow the growth of cancer cells (if any are present)
Phytochemicals give plants their unique colors, odors, and flavors. Deep colors and strong odors indicate higher levels of phytochemicals in the plant.
You will receive more phytochemicals in your diet if you eat a large, and varied amount of fruits and vegetables.
Here is a list of common phytochemicals, their functions, and what foods you can find them in.
- Carotenoids. Found in: red, orange, and green fruits and vegetables. Think carrots, bell peppers, melon, spinach, lettuce, oranges, and sweet potatoes. Carotenoids work as antioxidants, and help improve our immunity.
- Flavanoids. Found in: apples, citrus, onions, coffee, and tea. Flavanoids reduce inflammation and may reduce tumor growth. They also help the body detoxify.
- Indoles and Glucosinolates. Found in: broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and radishes. These help the body detoxify, regulate hormones, and block carcinogens.
- Polyphenols. Found in: green tea, grapes, berries, citrus, apples, whole grains, and peanuts. Polyphenols prevent cancer formation, inflammation, and work as antioxidants.
- Terpenes. Found in: cherries, and rosemary. Terpenes help protect cells from turning cancerous, improve immunity, and work as antioxidants.
As you can see, you don’t need to go out of your way to get phytochemicals. They are found in many everyday foods. Some of my favorite foods on the list are berries, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
Want to learn easy ways to incorporate more plants into your diet. Check out this previous post: “36 Ways to Add Fruits and Vegetables to your Meals”.
Question: How can you add more healthy “plant chemicals” to your diet? Leave your response in the comments box below.
photo by: SweetOnVeg via Flickr