Fruit and Vegetables: Disease Fighters!

Phytochemicals: What They Do for Health?

Cruciferous Vegetables

You can’t go wrong with increasing your intake of plants from the Brassica family – broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. There are many studies that even help to prevent cancer and heart disease. What makes them so powerful?  They are high in dietary fiber, polyphenols (phytochemicals) and provide over 40 phenolic compounds labeled “cruciferous” meaning their leaves grow in a cross-pattern.  There is some extensive research that reports that cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, an anticancer phytochemical named isothiocyanates fights breast cancer in particular. By the way, use the stalks and leafy greenss from the plant since they also contain a good amount of nutrients.

Anthocyanins

The red color of many cruciferous vegetables is significant. Anthocyanins are pigments that cause the red and purple coloring of many kales, cabbage, and other colorful vegetables . They can lower blood cholesterol.  One study found that healthy volunteers a fed a beverage of primarily broccoli and cabbage two times a day for three weeks showed a significant decrease in the so-called ‘bad” cholesterol, LDL. Follow up studies produced the same results.

What Other Foods Lower Blood Pressure? One important group is those who contain polyphenols – such as berries. They are a large family of phytochemicals particularly in cardiovascular health. Lycopene in tomatoes has been reported to fight prostate cancer.

Benefits come from their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood vessel dilating properties, and immune system functions. All fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols, but certain ones like berries, cocoa, tea, pomegranate, olives, and grapes contain especially high amounts. All work together so it’s best to consume them that way and in their natural forms.

Phytochemicals: What Do They Do for Health.

Cruciferous Vegetables

You can’t go wrong with increasing your intake of plants from the Brassica family – broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. There are many studies that even help to prevent cancer and heart disease. What makes them so powerful?  They are high in dietary fiber, polyphenols (phytochemicals) and provide over 40 phenolic compounds labeled “cruciferous” meaning their leaves grow in a cross-pattern.  There is some extensive research that reports that cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, an anticancer phytochemical named isothiocyanates fights breast cancer in particular.

Anthocyanins

The red color of many cruciferous vegetables is significant. Anthocyanins are pigments that cause the red and purple coloring of many kales, cabbage, and other colorful vegetables. They can lower blood cholesterol.  One study found that healthy volunteers a fed a beverage of primarily broccoli and cabbage two times a day for three weeks showed a significant decrease in the so-called ‘bad” cholesterol, LDL. Follow up studies produced the same results.

What Other Foods Lower Blood Pressure? One important group is those who contain polyphenols – such as berries. They are a large family of phytochemicals particularly in cardiovascular health. Their benefits come from their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood vessel dilating properties, and immune system functions. Certain ones like berries, cocoa, tea, pomegranate, olives, and grapes contain especially high amounts. However, all work in synergy so try to combine them together as much as possible. This action is what makes a plant-based diet easier to follow.

Source: Judith E. Brown Nutrition Now, 7th Edition

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