Phytochemicals in Foods

Phytochemicals Include hundreds of biologically active nonnutritive chemicals found primarily in plants. Most plant chemicals are for plant protection; however, others are known for their human health promoting properties.

The phytochemicals in our diet protect our health in a variety of ways. Some are carotenoids or antioxidants; others provide benefits because they mimic the structures like those found naturally in the body. For example, phytoestrogens such as those found in soy are called phytoestrogens; others are called phytosterols mimicking estrogen and cholesterol functions.

Some stimulate the body’s natural defenses. Indoles, and isothiocyanates found in broccoli stimulate the activity of enzymes that help deactivate carcinogens. Others are health promoting because they can alter the way in which cells communicate, and affect DNA repair mechanisms.

How to Choose Phytochemicals
Choose a few colors of fruits and vegetables each day to look for any recipes found to be appealing.
Spice up food with herbs and spices.
Add vegetables to sauces and casseroles.
Try baked or dried fruit for dessert.
Double your typical serving of vegetables.
Add pesto, spinach, or artichoke hearts to pizza.
Buy jars of chopped garlic, ginger, and basil and add to cooking.
Add barley to casseroles or stews.
Add fruit to cereal or vegetables to eggs.
Dice up some tofu and add it to stir fries.
Include nuts to baked goods or salads.
 Sprinkle flax seed on oatmeal.    

Bon appetit!!!

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