Are You Getting Your Phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients (pronounced “fight-o-nutrients”), also called phytochemicals, are natural bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables that works together with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to promote good health.

The National Cancer Institute recommends eating at least 5 – 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Other reputable sources recommend at least 9 servings for men, 7 servings for women, and 5 servings for children.

Research shows that fruits and vegetables are powerful defenders of our health. The research supporting a critical role for fruits and vegetables in good health grows stronger all the time. Scientists now agree that fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of a healthy diet. In addition to helping you feel better eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help reduce your risk of many chronic diseases including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other diseases.

The sad part is that despite these benefits, only 10 percent of us are able to follow this advice. I for one, find it difficult to eat this many servings of fruit and vegetables on a consistent basis. For those of you in my situation, we are probably not consuming the necessary dosage of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy, unless we are taking some form of vitamin supplement. However, traditional vitamin supplements do not provide us with phytonutrients.

The bioactive functions of phytonutrients — or the way they work in your body — is an ongoing area of research. 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

Common Phytonutrients include carotenoids, coumarins, flavonoids, indoles, lignans, isoflavones (including genistein and daidzen) organosulfurs and phytosterols. Hundreds of other phytonutrients have been discovered, usually related to the color of fruits and vegetables — green, yellow-orange, red, blue-purple, and white.. This leads to the recommendation that you should eat fruits and vegetables of varied color each day.

Phytonutrient-rich foods:

  • red, green, yellow and orange vegetables (apricots, peaches, melons, squashes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, pumpkin)
  • cruciferous veggies (kale, broccoli)
  • dark leafy greens (spinach and romaine)
  • fruits (citrus and berries)
  • flaxseeds
  • whole grains and legumes
  • garlic and leeks
  • soybeans
  • green teas and other herbal teas

Are you concerned about getting the necessary phytochemicals? Juicing provides a great, natural way to get phytonutrients that you need. Remember to juice fruits and vegetables that have a variety of colors to maximize your phytochemical intake. Despite juicing, if you find it difficult to get the 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day – especially in sufficient variety to give you a broad range of phytonutrients, I have recently found an amazing source of Phytonutrients from 24 fruits and vegetables, packaged in a convenient “on-the-go” approach. Find out more.

For more information on phytonutrients and recommended daily consumption of fruits and vegetables, you can refer to the government's website called Eat 5 to 9 a Day for Better Health.


Antioxidants behave like scavengers of “free radicals”, neutralizing them before they can do any damage to a cell’s components. Free radicals are by-products of the normal process of metabolism – yes, everybody has them—which are “unstable” because they are missing an electron (remember those negatively charged particles from science class). These unstable compounds undergo an “oxidation” process in which they take and transfer electrons, leaving behind a new free radical. This process can cause enormous damage to your body’s cells and will continue unless an “antioxidant” halts the process. While the body has its own defenses against the oxidation process, foods rich in vitamins A, C and E contribute greatly to the cause. However, keep in mind that under certain conditions or taken to the extreme, any antioxidant can have negative side effects. So as with your general diet, keep it in balance and don’t overdo it!

Getting sufficient Phytonutrients is
The Natural Path to good health.

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