Phyto" is the Greek word for plants!
Phytonutrients are natural, protective chemicals produced by plants.
Guess what: these chemicals protect us too! Although phytonutrients aren't considered essential, because we could be alive without them, they are essential
for us to thrive, not just be alive.
Of the approximately 25,000 phytonutrients in plants, WebMD highlights the following six categories. Each category contain numerous kinds of phytonutrients, performing many functions.
Produce colors: yellow, orange, reds
Important for producing vitamin A in the body,
which is beneficial for immunity and eye health.
Protects against cancer
Green tea, citrus fruits, apples, berries, kale, onions
May help reduce risk of asthma, some cancers,
and heart disease
Grapes, purple grape juice, red wine
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
Reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers
Cruciferous vegetables, including brussel sprouts,
cabbage, kale, broccoli.
Turn into other chemicals during cooking
and in digestion that help prevent cancer.
Can act like estrogen and block natural supply
Soy foods (isoflavones).
May be link to lowered risk of endometrial cancer
and bone loss in women.
Lignans converted by body into chemicals with
estrogen-like effects. Flax and sesame seeds
are good sources.
Phytonutrients. (Retrieved April, 2021). Webmd.com
Phytofoods contain phytonutrients.
The first thing people typically ask when discussing a plant-based/vegan diet is, "What about protein?" when would benefit much more by asking,
"What about phytonutrients?"
Phytonutrients are only found in plant foods and are essential to our health and well-being. The focus on protein has resulted in animal meat, diary, and eggs being the focus of almost every meal. Remember: protein, carbohydrates, and fats are macronutrients. They're not really food groups!
Proteins are in abundance throughout plant foods, and in the most concentrated, complete amounts among legumes, beans, nuts, and seeds. Even produce has significant amounts of protein that count towards our daily protein needs. We really don't need to worry about getting enough protein. We should be worried about getting too much when consuming animal products, because most people do.
Phytofood & Life