The foods you consume play a vital role in your overall health and well-being. If you continually feed your body with junk foods that are high in sugars, fats, and salts, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, diabetes, and illness. With cold and flu season in full swing across the country, it is important to consume foods rich in nutrients and phytochemicals to help combat illness.
Phytochemicals are non-nutrient compounds found in plant-based foods that cause biological activity in the body and may be beneficial to overall health. They give foods their characteristic tastes, aromas, and colors. These compounds give tomatoes their red color, peppers their heat, and garlic its strong flavor.
Just a few of the thousands of phytochemicals have been identified and researched. The benefits of these compounds are just now beginning to be understood. Because the foods that we eat contain thousands of phytochemicals, in addition to dozens of nutrients, researchers must be careful when crediting any particular health benefit to any one compound. It’s likely a mixture of several phytochemicals and nutrients working together to benefit our health.
In the body, phytochemicals are believed to have great physiological effects. Phytochemicals act as antioxidants, which can prevent oxidative damage in the body. Phytochemicals can also boost the immune system to better battle germs and bacteria.
Some phytochemicals may keep harmful cells from taking up residence in our bodies by making the “environment” in our bodies unfriendly or unwelcoming to bad bacteria or potentially disease-causing substances.
Nutrient-rich foods are linked with a reduced risk for certain diseases. You may have super foods in your refrigerator or pantry and not even know it!
Consuming these foods as part of a balanced diet plus exercising daily may give your body an advantage against fighting diseases, aging, and may even improve your mental health: