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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:

The Hill

School lunch nutrition standards may expire this month
Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned Tuesday Congress risks taking a “step back” if it fails to renew and strengthen school nutrition programs set to expire at the end of this month. “It's important for Congress not to take a step back,” Vilsack ...
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Encourages Congress to Reauthorize Strong ...USDA.gov (press release)

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USDA.gov (press release) (blog)

School Embraces Nutrition Standards to the Culinary Delight of Its Students
USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
It sounds like a dish from a five star restaurant, but it's just one of many recipes registered dietitian and director of nutrition services Jenn Gerard offers students for lunch in her California school district. Learn how Monterey Peninsula Schools ...



Journal Times

Quinn on Nutrition: As school begins, tips to help kids eat right
Journal Times
My morning commute to work is suddenly filled with big yellow buses and cars darting through traffic to drop off kids at school. Yep, the school year is here once again. This is also Kids Eat Right Month, an ongoing initiative of the Academy of ...

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Mathieu Center hosts nutrition programs
Valley Breeze
PAWTUCKET - The Leon Mathieu Senior Center and Blackstone Health Inc. co-sponsor free nutrition education programs for adults age 55 and older at the center's 420 Main St. location. Free one-on-one nutrition counseling appointments are offered with ...



Potato Nutrition A to Z
PR Newswire (press release)
DENVER, Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Potato pop quiz! Are potatoes healthy? Yes! According to a National Eating Trends survey, potatoes are America's favorite side dish, and that's great news, America, because the potatoes you love are good for you, too.

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Victoria Advocate

Nutritional tug of war
Victoria Advocate
Nutrition is science, and science is a study of observations and experiments. Well, as we humans, in addition to our food sources, evolve and change, nutrition facts may also change. And many times, what is good for one person may not be good for ...



USDA.gov (press release) (blog)

Team Up Training Fosters Healthier Schools, Empowers School Nutrition ...
USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
The following guest blog highlights the success story of one of our nation's school nutrition change agents. As a recent participant and lead mentor in USDA's Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative, Richard Miles provided best practices and ...



Wichita Eagle

Make kids' snacks nutrition boosters, not busters
Wichita Eagle
Smart snacking can actually fill a nutritional void and keep the mind alert for homework. So rather than give your child free reign of their snack options, consider how you might help them pack the biggest punch (nutrition) into the smallest package ...



John Rosemond: Can Better Nutrition Cure ADHD?
Hartford Courant
In America, the go-to guy on ADHD is Dr. Russell Barkley, whose impressive credentials include psychologist, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and author of several books. In an online course on ADHD, Dr ...

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Forbes

How Even Subtle Changes In Food And Nutrition Labels Exert Power Over Consumer ...
Forbes
The wars over food labeling are intense and getting more so. Should there be labels identifying genetically-modified ingredients? Given the mounting evidence that health risks of sugar are worse than generally thought even five years ago, the FDA wants ...


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