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A phytochemical (fight-o-chemical) is a natural bioactive compound found in fruits and vegetables that works together with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to promote good benefit your health in many ways. The bioactive functions of phytochemicals — or the way they work in your body — is an ongoing area of research.
For example, some studies show that phytochemicals can:
Act as antioxidants
Stimulate detoxification enzymes
Stimulate the immune system
Positively affect hormones
Act as antibacterial or antiviral agents
Why Fruits & Vegetables are Better Than Supplements
Phytochemicals are usually related to the color of fruits and vegetables — green, yellow-orange, red, blue-purple, and white. Hundreds of phytochemicals have been discovered. You can benefit from all of them by eating 5 to 9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables everyday.
Remember, only fruits and vegetables, not pills or supplements, can give you phytochemicals and nutrients in the healthy combinations nature intended. When you eat fruits and vegetables, nutrients are easily absorbed to provide maximum health benefits. In contrast, supplements or pills contain large doses of only one or a couple of phytochemicals. These isolated supplements have not been proven to be effective or even safe.
Eat a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables
By eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables — green, yellow-orange, red, blue-purple, and white — you're giving your body a wide range of nutrients that are important for good health. Each color offers something unique, like different vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals, that work together to protect your health. Only fruits and vegetables, not pills or supplements, can give you these nutrients in the healthy combinations nature intended. Here are some examples:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Turnip, Collard, and Mustard Greens, Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Broccoli, Green peas, Kiwi, Honeydew Melon
Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Bok Choy, Arugala, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Rutabaga, Watercress, Cauliflower, Kale
Swiss Chard, Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Endive, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Cabbage
Leafy greens, Broccoli
Beta-Carotene & Vitamin A
Carrots, Sweet potatoes, Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, Cantaloupe, Mangoes, Apricots, Peaches
Bioflavonoids & Vitamin C
Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Tangerines, Clementines, Peaches, Papaya, Apricots, Nectarines, Pears, Pineapple, Yellow Raisins, Yellow Pepper
Bananas, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Pineapple, Apricots
Cranberries, Pink grapefruit, Raspberries, Strawberries, Watermelon, Red Cabbage, Red Pepper, Radishes, Tomatoes
Raspberries, Cherries, Strawberries, Cranberries, Beets, Apples, Red Cabbage, Red Onion, Kidney Beans, Red Beans
Anthocyanins & Vitamin C
Blueberries, Blackberries, Purple Grapes, Black Currants, Elderberries
Dried Plums (Prunes), Raisins, Plums, Eggplant
Allium & Allicin
Garlic, Onions, Leeks, Scallions, Chives
Eat 5 to 9 a Day for Better Health
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