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Fruits and Vegetables and Phytochemicals


I'm willing to bet you probably haven't heard the word 'phytochemicals' before. But you've been eating them your whole life and they are vitally important to your life and well-being. They are one of the keys to real health.

So, what are they? Phytochemicals are biologically active substances in food. They have health enhancing abilities and possibly curative abilities. They number in the hundreds in most plant foods. They are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains.

Phytochemicals work together with nutrients to promote health and prevent disease. When you eat some broccoli or a tomato, you get all of these phytochemicals. So, can't you just take a supplement? You could, but first of all, scientists have isolated only a few of the phytochemicals in foods. But these work best in combination, so taking just one, isolated phytochemical is not anywhere near as effective.

For example, let's look at lycopene. It is found in tomatoes and is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are a large and important subject, but for now, let's just simplify and say that antioxidants help to repair cellular damage.

Scientists did studies and found that tomatoes had a noticeable effect against prostate cancer. They analyzed the tomato and isolated lycopene. Then the scientists did more studies, using lycopene. The effect on prostate cancer was much less. Does this mean that lycopene doesn't work?

No, it means that it works best in combination with all the other phytochemicals in tomatoes, and the nutrients. You don't get that from a chemically identical, but lab-created, lycopene.

Eating a tomato is good for you, of course. But eating all the tomatoes you would need to get what you need from them would be quite a task. So, a whole foods powder that I use, Berry Greens, offers freeze dried tomatoes, in a form that retains the nutrients. And a whole lot of other vegetables and fruits as well. You get all the benefits of eating all those fruits and vegetables, without having to consume all that food.

Most foods have not been analyzed and even those that have been, scientists have only been able to isolate a few of the phytochemicals. Most vegetables have hundreds of phytochemicals, and it's not likely they will all be isolated, analyzed and understood any time soon. We do know now, though, that they do work together to provide real health for us.

Barbara Pfieffer writes about gaining real health on her blog, Real Health. She has resources on what supplements really work, the differences among carbohydrates and other information to bring you to real health.


MORE RESOURCES:

Nutrition Q&A: Sugar alcohols are no panacea for diabetes
Washington Post
“Lots of my clients are confused by foods labeled 'sugar-free' and containing one or more of these foreign-sounding ingredients with an 'ol' ending,” says Lise Gloede, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and owner of Nutrition Coaching ...



General Mills boosts flavors, nutrition of cereal, other foods
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Foodmakers have been adding nutritional benefits — particularly fiber and protein — to a wide variety of products to ease the guilt often associated with snacking. Fiber One, for instance, started as a cereal but has expanded to a variety of snacks ...

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5 kid-friendly food additions to boost nutrition
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From Chia to Cacao, there are a few things that you can use to add more nutrition to your family meals without messing with the taste. 1. Chia Seeds: This edible, unprocessed seed with a mild, nutty flavor, will help provide a boost of fiber, protein ...



Sarah Lynch on nutrition
Wausau Daily Herald
A recent article in Health magazine reviewed 25 simple tips to cut 500 calories per week. After reviewing the article, here are some of my favorites that can benefit everyone. • Don't eat in front of the television: When eating away from the table, the ...



Nutrition on the go
Albany Times Union
We paired up with Monica Salafia, president of Russell Sage College's Nutrition Club and a nutrition major, to look at what local gas stations and convenience stores have to offer. We found there can be healthy options found at rest stops and ...



Spotlight on: Resolutions Nutrition
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Resolutions Nutrition is an instantly inviting business. With lime-green walls, comfortable couches, and a friendly atmosphere, the health club offers not only a wide variety of nutritional shakes, but also the perfect venue to sit down and stay for a ...



Health Briefs: Sports physicals, activity/nutrition class
Helena Independent Record
Activity, nutrition class offered at St. Peter's Hospital. Registration is now being accepted for St. Peter's Hospital's 10-month nutritional and physical activity course “Inch by Inch,” which focuses on the prevention of diabetes and heart disease ...



Iowan named to lead key USDA nutrition post
DesMoinesRegister.com
Iowan Angela Tagtow has been named the next executive director for the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ia. She will report to USDA Under Secretary Kevin ...
Iowan Tagtow to head USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and PromotionAgri-Pulse

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Sowing The Seeds of Good Nutrition
WOWT
Sowing the seeds of good nutrition for years to come. The Farmers Market is an open air produce shop and it's coming to a neighborhood that can really use it. It's where urban meets rural. Fresh produce stacked for the masses. The Omaha Farmers Market ...

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Free nutrition camp for kids set July 14-17
Tuscaloosa News (subscription)
The camp will teach children how to read nutrition labels, make healthy food choices, stay active outside of school and read food messages in advertising. Bissell also will introduce children to the Track My Plate iPad app. She received a grant from ...

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