Sometimes referred to as phytochemicals, phytonutrients are components found in a variety of different types of foods, especially plants. While not specifically classified as nutrients that are essential for life, phytonutrients do contain elements that can help to promote good health. Because they often contain antioxidants and compounds that are anti-inflammatory in nature, phytochemical foods are sometimes known by the nickname of superfoods.
There are a number of fruits and vegetables that contain one or more examples of phytonutrients. Soybeans are considered to be one of the premier sources of phyto based elements. In addition to the high levels of protein, soybeans also contain isoflavones and protease inhibitors that can enhance cardiovascular health. Other types of legumes also are rich with phytonutrients, such as peas, lentils, and kidney beans.
Several other vegetables are great sources of phytonutrients. Broccoli is rich with selenium and lignans, as well as plenty of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes provide an excellent source of beta-carotene.
Fruits provide a variety of phytonutrient compounds. Most citrus fruits provide substantial amounts of ferulic and oxalic acids, as well as cryptoxanthin and Vitamin C. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, as well as being an excellent source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene. Blueberries provide an excellent source of tannic acid in the diet, as well as anthocyanins and lignans.
Other types of food and flavor enhancers will include some forms of phytonutrients as well. Flax seeds are an excellent example. Both the seeds and the oil that is produced from the seeds have healthy amounts of lignans. In addition to enhancing the flavor of foods, garlic will supply helpful doses of limonene and several thiosulphonates. Chili peppers are rich in capsaicin or cayenne, which is considered by many herbologists to be nothing short of food for the heart.
While phytonutrients are not considered to be the essential nutrients of life, they are thought to be excellent sources for helping to maintain a healthy body and mind. Making sure to include at least a few of the fruits, vegetables, and spices that contain these important elements in the daily diet will prove helpful in maintaining both physical and mental well being.