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SuperFoods

What makes a Superfood so Super?

Phytonutrients (also phytochemicals)

Phytonutrients are chemicals or nutrients found in plants:

  • Sulphur compounds in garlic & onions which act as bug repellents;
  • Vibrant pigments like beta carotene in carrots and cantaloupe that put vivid hues in food we eat;
  • Other compounds that protect plants from bacteria viruses and other natural enemies.

When we eat these compounds, it protects us from high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, heart disease, certain cancers, and even aging.

What do Phytonutrients do?

They Neutralize Free Radicals - oxygen molecules that due to pollution, sunlight & everyday wear & tear have each lost an electron. They move through the body in search of electrons and steal wherever they can, damaging the cells they steal from in the process – over time causing irreparable damage and disease. Phytonutrients offer up “free” electrons which cause the free radical molecules to become stable again.

They Eliminate Toxic Waste – the body produces Phase-1 and Phase-2 enzymes. Phase-1 enzymes are important in normal cell function but they also work against you too. When cancer causing toxins enter your system, Phase-1 enzymes help to make them active. Phase-2 ezymes seek out carcinogens and detoxify them before they can cause damage. Foods that contain the phytonutrients (such as broccoli) stomp out Phase-1 enzymes and boost production of Phase-2 enzymes

They Regulate Hormones – particularly estrogen. High levels may lead to hormone-related cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers. A class of phytonutrients (isoflavones) bind to the body’s estrogen receptors, leaving the real hormone with nowhere to go but out.

Use the dropdown below to go to specific phytonutrients.

Allylic Sulfides

(onions & garlic)
  • Prevent heart disease & cancer – particularly in gastrointestinal tract
  • Stimulate toxin-eliminating enzymes
  • Have ability to keep cholesterol and other blood fats – triglycerides- from causing heralth-threatening blood clots & hardening of the arteries.

Carotenoids

(tomatoes, carrots, cantaloupes)
  • give bright colours to fruits & veg (chlorophyll masks colour in dark green veg)
  • fight heart disease & cancer Different types of carotenoids, some examples:
    • lycopene – tomatoes
    • lutein – spinach & kale
    • zeaxanthin – green leafy veg

Flavonoids

(Apples, onions, celery, cranberries, grapes, broccoli, endive, green & black tea, red wine)
  • Also add colour to foods, particularly reds, yellows & blues. (chlorophyll masks colour in dark green veg)
  • Antioxidants defend against heart disease & cancer.
  • Keep blood platelets from clumping together and forming clots, preventing heart attacks.

Indoles

(broccoli, cabbage & other cruciferous vegetables)
  • Bitter taste (bugs don’t like taste)
  • Indole-3-carbinol plays a role in regulating hormones may be useful in preventing breast cancer.
  • Reduces levels of harmful estrogens while increasing more benign forms of estrogen.

Isoflavones

(Soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  • May act as estrogen regulators and therefore reduce risk of hormone-based cancers.

Isothiocyanates

(mustard oils, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, watercress )
  • protect cruciferous veg from insect attack because of bitter flavour
  • Sulforaphane (found in broccoli) is leading for cancer-blocking ability

Lignans

(Flaxseed)
  • Plant estrogens help regulate human estrogen like isoflavones.
  • 1 – 2 heaping tablespoons a day sprinkled on cereal or baked into bread.

Monterpenes

  • One type – limonene – found primarily in orange peels & citrus oils, blocks proteins that are known to promote cell growth in various cancers. 
  • Shown to reduce tumour production.
  • Perillyl alcohol – found in cherries – shown to prevent cancers of breast, lung, stomach, liver and skin

Phenolic Compounds (or Polyphenols)

  • Found in almost all fruits, veg, cereal grains and green and black teas
  • Fight cancer by stimulating protective enzymes while reducing harmful ones.
  • Strong antioxidant
  • Ellagic acid – strawberries
  • Polyphenols – green tea
  • Curcumin – turmeric

Saponins

  • Perhaps the most common phytonutrients
  • Found in wide variety  of veg, herbs and legumes – beans, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, oats, soybeans
  • Diet rich in saponin have lower rates of breast, prostate and colon cancers

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To learn more about Phytonutrients click here.


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Grow My Goodness! accepts no responsibility for your success or lack thereof in the garden or kitchen. Information contained in this website is obtained through personal research, and mostly from trial and error. It is for your enjoyment only and is not a replacement for sound medical advice. Your health is your responsibility. Eat your veggies, exercise daily, get plenty of rest, and visit your doctor annually.
Oh, and a glass of wine here and there might not hurt either!

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