health and nutrition studies are showing that plant foods, especially fruits
and veggies, are better for us than we ever imagined
produce these substances to protect themselves against a host of environmental
threats—from damaging ultraviolet radiation to plant-eating parasites.
Fortunately, it turns out that these same plant-protective substances are just
as good for humans.
Several thousand Phytochemicals have been identified thus
far, and they perform truly spectacular feats in our bodies with the greatest
of ease. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry can only dream of producing drugs
capable of performing as effectively in our systems as phytochemicals do
protect our bodies against disease in a myriad of ways, but they are most
valuable for their antioxidant, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting powers
because fruits and vegetables boast the highest concentration of
phytochemicals, they are the ideal food group for a leaner look and better
Antioxidants are scavengers of rogue
molecules called free radicals, whichrun around in our bodies initiating
a cascade of damaging oxidation. Free radicals are by-products of the body's
normal metabolic processes, although they can also enter our bodies from
environmental sources like tobacco smoke, chemicals, smog, prescription drugs,
ultraviolet radiation, and even the foods we eat.
Unfortunately, the oxidation
induced by free radicals damages vital cellular structures and ultimately
contributes to the development of cancer, heart disease, cataracts, arthritis, skin
wrinkling, and even the aging process itself. Because cancer can
result from a deficiency of antioxidants, and lycopene is such a powerful
antioxidant, it is not surprising that studies from around the word have
revealed general cancer protection from diets rich in tomatoes.
If you don’t like raw tomatoes,
that’s alright; you can flood your system with lycopene even more effectively
by eating tomato products such as salsa and marinara sauce.
Blueberries owe their deep, blue color to a class of
phytochemicals called anthocyanins. Like lycopene, anthocyanins have
potent antioxidant power, but they are also true workhorses when it comes to fighting inflammation. Science is now telling
us that excessive inflammation plays a major role in the development of a broad
range of diseases, including heart attacks, some cancers, Alzheimer’s,
autoimmune disease, and allergic conditions.
Think of it this way: eating fruits
and vegetables, along with the other delicious plant foods, namely whole grains, beans,
nuts and seeds, is akin to adding a turbo to a car.
Nature’s storehouse is filled with
delicious fruits and vegetables of almost every color and texture. From
the deep blue-purple of blueberries and blackberries, to the bright
orange-yellow of tangerines and bell peppers, the more colorful the food, the
more packed with nutrients it is. Remember, color means health: the
deeper and richer the color, the more phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals
present in the food.