Phytonutrients, or phytochemicals, are special plant nutrients that have been found to boost health and protect against disease. While there are many classes and types of phytonutrients, you should pay special attention to a few.
Anthocyanins are flavonoids that give fruits and vegetables a deep red, blue, or purple tone. They have been linked to the prevention of heart disease and cancer, and they may also improve cognitive function. Anthocyanins are found in berries, red grapes, purple eggplant and red cabbage.
Carotenoids are a group of phytochemicals with antioxidant activity that fight free radicals and reduce the cell damage that eventually leads to disease. Carotenoids can be found in carrots, collard greens, tomatoes, pumpkin and cantaloupe.
A catechin is a flavanol linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers. This flavanol may also help to lower blood cholesterol. Catechins are most often associated with tea, but they can also be found in coffee and chocolate.
Quercetin is a flavonoid that acts as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows it may help protect against heart disease and cancer. It’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce the symptoms of allergies. Quercetin is found in apples, berries, citrus fruits, onions, olive oil, and parsley.
Sulfides are a group of sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible of the pungent flavor of some foods. Research has linked these compounds to better control of blood pressure and a decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol. Sulfides are found in allium vegetables such as garlic, onions, leeks and scallions.