So, let’s talk about PHYTONUTRIENTS: phytonutrients are natural chemicals found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, tea, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and beans. Diets that are dense in animal protein, and fats have their benefits however the potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers that are in plant products mean that many of us may become deficient and fail to feel the goodness that these beauties provide! A recent study showed that women in America in the highest quartile of dietary phytonutrient index compared to those with the lowest consumed 300 times more fruit and vegetables and 10 times more tea and coffee. Though there are thousands of these little guys, the most common ones you may have heard of are:
- Resveratrol: Reveratrol has been associated with increased cerebral blood flow and supports healthy cardiovascular and cognitive functions. This nutrient can be found in organic berries and grapes (the smaller the berry, the higher the levels) and also in cocoa beans.
- Flavonoids: Rich In antioxidant and anti cancer properties as they help repair free radical damage in the body. Perhaps a little controversial in me saying this… but go ahead and have a black coffee; it has some of the highest levels of flavonoids along with green tea and ginger… note this is permission to have A coffee… not SEVERAL!
- Phytoestrogens: Although phytoestrogens aren’t always seen as a good thing; they can be beneficial in women particularly those needing relief from menopausal symptoms as they mimic oestrogen in the body. These compounds have also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis however it is important to source these from good quality produce such as organic non GMO soy, broccoli and legumes.
- Carotenoids: Can be converted into vitamin A to support healthy immune and eye function. Eat your carrots, drink your oranges and steam your kale to get a big dose into you!
So, how can we extract all of these nutrients without going overboard? Comvination is key! Below are effective ways you can obtain all the nutrients needed to fight inflammation and help your cells thrive!
- Green tea and citrus. The citrus helps to preserve the antioxidants in the green tea allowing them to be more readily absorbed by the body.
- Turmeric and black pepper. Black pepper increase scurcumin (the active phytochemical) by a factor of 1000 in turmeric.
- Turmeric and green tea. Both of these together have a synergistic effect.
- Chopped garlic and thyme. Garlic is best chopped and left for 10 minutes to activate the anti-cancer compound diallyl disulphide as it needs oxidation to be activated.
- Berries and Greek yoghurt. Recent studies have shown that consuming probiotics with plant compounds can increase bioavailability and absorption in the gut.
- Steam your veggies. Recent studies now show that steaming rather than eating vegetables raw or boiled activates the phytonutrients at a greater rate and allow us to absorb more readily in the body.
Bottom line? Although restrictive diet certainly have their place when treating certain conditions and facilitating weight loss; long term we want sour bodies to thrive and plant products pack a punch with vitamins, nutrients and minerals and therefore if we have the choice and the opportunity to taste the rainbow… then please do!!! Below is my current favourite summer smoothie, that is packed with phytochemical goodness.
1/2 cup Berries, frozen
1 tbsp Manuka Honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp Turmeric
Sprinkle of Black pepper
1/2 cup coconut probiotic yoghurt
1/2 cup Water