Phytochemicals are found in foods and contribute to taste, color and smell. These are non-nutrient compounds, tens of thousands exist in plants. Scientists know of and have done research on a handful, and there’s evidence to conclude that certain phytochemicals can contribute to better health.
There is evidence emerging about the benefits of a diet containing soy, flaxseed, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables which all contain many phytochemicals. Soy has phytochemicals called isoflavones. These inhibit the cell replication in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract which has shown a correlation with lowered rated of prostate and breast cancer along with others.
Some phytochemicals also have antioxidant effects which inhibit the growth of some cancers by slowing the amount of oxygen being delivered to these mutated cells through the blood. Although many of these phytochemicals help prevent cancer forming mechanisms, here’s a list of post-cancer health benefits and where to find them.
Flavenoids are another phytochemical that has shown to be beneficial in fighting diseases. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants and help the body to fight heart disease, inflammation, and LDL cholesterol oxidation. Flavenoids can be found in whole grains, legumes, teas, chocolate, olive oil, wine etc.. Although data shows that flavonoids isolated and formed into supplements do not show this benefit.
Eye health can also be fortified by phytochemicals. The chemical called lutein is found in spinach and other colorful leafy plants. It helps protect the eyes against macular degeneration.
|Effect||Where to find in food|
|Flavenoids||Inhibits cell proliferation||Berries, teas, citrus, purple grape products, soy, onions etc.|
|Isoflavonoids (genistein and daidzein)||Reduce cancer cell survival||Soy and legume products|
|Tannins||Inhibits cancer promotion||Lentils, wines, teas, grapes|
|Saponins||Prevents cancer cells from multiplying||Sprouts, green vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes|
|For Heart Disease|
|Capsaicin||Reduces the risk of fatal blood clots in heart and arteries.||Hot peppers|
|Inhibits blood clot formation and cancer cell growth||Red wine, peanuts, grapes, raspberries|
Want to know more? Check out this research paper: