Wellness experts are always telling us that we need to eat more colorful foods. The reason behind this is that these pretty fruits and veggies are actually nutritional powerhouses, chock full of the good stuff: phytonutrients.
You may have heard this word being thrown around before, but here's what it actually means. Broken down, "phyto" refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats. The plain-English explanation is that plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals, and they're what make fruits and veggies worth eating, as they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly. The roles phytonutrients play range; they can act as antioxidants, immune system-boosters, lower risk of bone loss, eye health, lower risk of cancers, inflammation-reducers, asthma risk-reducer, coronary heart disease prevention, and overall lifespan-extenders. Some of the phytonutrients Good Guys that do all this are resveratrol, catechins, hesperidin, flavonols, ellagic acid, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.
You don't have to just eat fruits and veggies to gain the phytonutrient benefits, either. A lot of plant-based foods have them too, such as:
- Whole grains
- Wine (now, don't go crazy on this one!)