Fruit and Vegetable Season – Phytonutrient Season

June 19, 2018 in Health, Nutrition by Joyce Bunderson

When I stumble upon the word phytonutrient (or phytochemical – same thing; phyto means of a plant in Greek), it is usually being used by someone who is selling supplements. The most disappointing part of the word use is that it is usually about a few specific phytonutrients that have been cheaply extracted from plants and then sold at a humongous profit. If you’re not clear about phytonutrients, I will feel very successful if I can just clarify one fact about phytonutrients for you today. The main thing that I want you to gain from this post is that there are over 25,000 phytonutrients, and to extract and sell a handful that have visibility hype for some reason, is nutritional nonsense.

Consider this, picking out a few or even 20 or 30 of the 25,000 to supplement will not offer you optimal health. Yes, you can generally stay alive without phytonutrients, unlike the essential vitamins and minerals. But will your cells stay healthy? Will your immune system work as well and be able to resist disease as well without them? In short, No! But it does not follow that supplements are the way to get what you need!

While I’m thinking about supplements, let me also clarify one of the issues of supplementing with phytonutrients. When you eat a large number of plant foods (thus phytonutrients) those phytonutrients act synergistically with each other and with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in the foods you’re consuming. They work together – it’s like a team approach. If you’re taking selected phytonutrient supplements you lose this super benefit. You are buying by trusting the implicit lie that one or a few players can play for the whole team, and do all the good that the entire team can do when you eat them as they already are found in Whole, usually colorful foods.

If you want to assure yourself of getting a wide range of phytonutrients, serve up a variety of colors in your fruit or vegetable salads. Many of the phytonutrients are very colorful – so eating an assortment of colorful foods is one easy way to get a variety.

As I mentioned in the first sentence, phytonutrients are in plants; so vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, whole grains, beans, nuts and tea are all sources of phytonutrients. Yes, these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, but a big part of the power behind these foods is their phytonutrients.

There is no shortage of studies showing that higher fruit and vegetable intake is linked to lower chronic disease risk. If you want to be kind to your body, consider enjoying a tasty and refreshing, crunchy, summer fruit and/or vegetable salad. Don’t limit yourself to lettuce and tomato; consider going a little wild with variety.

Scientists are learning more and more about what phytonutrients do to help our bodies, and when we eat them daily, we benefit each and every day. Yea! It’s phytonutrient season.