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When your time is limited, learning about nutrition is probably quite low down on your priorities list.  You might know a little about the main nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein) and you may have heard the odd snippet or two about the vitamins.  However, I bet you’ve never heard of phytochemicals.  Follow along as I discuss why learning about phytochemicals is definitely worth five minutes of your time and how you can incorporate phytochemicals into your diet in less than five minutes a day.

 

A 5 Minute Introduction To The Phytochemicals

Phytochemicals are health-boosting nutrients that act in a very essential similar way to vitamins and minerals.  The key difference is that vitamins minerals are essential and you cannot survive without them. Phytochemicals are not essential but they greatly enhance your health.  Some of their main health benefits include:

 

1) Acting As Antioxidants:- Antioxidants are substances in food that keep your body’s cells safe from free radicals.  Free radicals are harmful compounds that get released during oxygen-based reactions inside your body and can accelerate the ageing process, increase the likelihood of you developing chronic diseases, and much more.  Studies have shown that almost all phytochemicals are powerful antioxidants and can keep your body’s cells safe from these nasty side effects of free radicals.

 

2) Keeping Your Skin Healthy:- Many skincare products push the fact that they use natural plant based ingredients instead of unnatural chemicals.  If you take a closer look at the ingredients in these products then the chances are that these plant-based ingredients are actually phytochemicals.  The reason these phytochemicals are used in skincare products is because studies have shown that phytochemicals can prevent acne, prevent eczema, prevent psoriasis, protect against ultraviolet (UV) damage, reduce the visible signs of ageing and much more.

 

3) Keeping Your Vital Organs Healthy:- The phytochemicals give your vital organs a real boost.  Studies have shown that they can strengthen your brain, your eyes, your heart, your kidneys, your liver, and more.

For example, carrots are good for our eyesight. They're actually really good food for so many of our body parts.  Did you know that carrots are loaded with Vitamin A which helps to protect and repair our skin from sun damage, as well as keep it soft and supple? Vitamin A also aids in having strong, shiny and healthy hair!

The high levels of beta-carotene in carrots help to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes when eaten on a regular basis!  It's these same beta-carotenes that protect our vision and keep our eyes working at optimal performance!

Like most vegetables, carrots are high in antioxidants which help to protect and repair your cells and DNA from mutation and damage which leads to ageing and forms of cancers and other illnesses.  Enjoying carrots on a regular basis can help your body repair itself from daily toxins, lower your risk of heart disease and even promote a healthier mouth, teeth, and gums through their anti-microbial properties that promote bacteria!

 

4) Protecting Against Chronic Disease:- Although no one knows for sure what causes chronic diseases, phytochemicals appear to offer protection against them.  Research has revealed that eating a diet that is rich in phytochemicals can reduce your risk of contracting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

 

Add The Phytochemicals To Your Diet In Less Than 5 Minutes Per Day

There are thousands of phytochemicals out there.  However, many of these phytochemicals can be found in similar foods.  By incorporating these foods into your diet you can quickly start to add large amounts of phytochemicals to your diet and enjoy the benefits listed above in little to no time at all.  The list below outlines some of the best ways to quickly add phytochemicals to your diet:

1) Have Berries & Oatmeal For Breakfast:- Do you remember when blueberries were named as the ultimate superfood?  What about when everyone went crazy for Acai berries?  Whilst the hype around these berries was a bit over the top, there was a reason that these berries started getting so much attention - berries contain extremely high levels of a group of phytochemicals called anthocyanins.  Eating berries and oatmeal for breakfast a few days each week is a quick and easy way to incorporate the anthocyanins into your diet.  Simply heat some butter, milk, and oats in a pan, simmer for a few minutes and then top with berries.

 

2) Drink More Tea:- Green tea is another superfood that seemed to be everywhere a few years ago.  The reason for all the interest in green tea is that it’s a brilliant source of the phytochemical group - flavan-3-ols.  Whilst green tea contains the highest levels of flavan-3-ols, black tea and oolong tea are also a very good source.  Therefore, by simply drinking more tea (black, green or oolong) throughout the day you can fill your body with flavan-3-ols.  Preparing and drinking tea doesn’t take long - you just boil the kettle and brew it up in a cup.  However, if you are really pushed for time you can brew up a large thermos flask of tea first thing in the morning and then drink it throughout the day.

 

3) Start Eating Soy Beans With Your Lunch & Dinner:- Soybeans are yet another food that has shot to superstar status in the past for their cancer preventing properties.  The secret behind their cancer-fighting powers is a group of phytochemicals called isoflavones.  The good news is that isoflavones can be added to your diet in virtually no time at all - simply include some soybeans with your lunchtime salad or use them as a side vegetable with your evening meal a few times each week.

 

4) Start Adding Olives To Your Diet:- The Mediterranean diet is believed to be one of the healthiest diets in the world.  Studies have suggested that the main reason it is so healthy is because it incorporates lots of olives, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil which are an exclusive source of the phytochemical group - tyrosol esters.  The good news is that you can incorporate the tyrosol esters into your diet pretty easily and enjoy their benefits without going completely Mediterranean.  Olives can be added to salads or used to complement certain hot foods whilst olive oil and extra virgin olive oil can be added to sauces and used to garnish vegetables, grains, and proteins.

 

5) Snack On Oranges:- Citrus fruits are one of the best sources of a group of phytochemicals called flavanones.  By snacking on an orange once a day you can add the flavanones to your diet and the best part is it takes less than a minute to do so.

 

I hope this article has shown you that the phytochemicals are worth your time no matter how busy you are.  Brewing a flask of tea first thing in the morning, sprinkling a few berries on your oatmeal at breakfast, or garnishing your meats with extra virgin olive oil before you cook them are all tasks that take very little time out of your day but can do wonders for your health.  So make sure you take the extra five minutes each day to incorporate the phytochemicals into your diet and start enjoying a healthier, happier life!