Nutrition Facts in
Benefits of Phytochemicals
In this article on nutrition facts in fruits vegetables, I share with you the core phytochemicals from plants that are vitally beneficial to your body as food and as medicine.
As part of your whole foods plant-based diet, fruits and vegetables offer varying benefits. You receive doses of alkaline minerals like potassium that help regulate fluid retention and blood pressure.
Fruits and vegetables have much fiber and thus helps control blood sugar levels. Fiber fills you up and digests slowly. This helps curb the appetite.
So no unnecessary binging.
As you eat more of these foods, you will be nutritionally sustained and ‘impure’ food cravings will simply decline.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and have no cholesterol. Thus good for weight control.
If you have difficulty to increase your consumption, then drink your fruits and vegetables, as smoothies.
Let’s go now to nutrition facts in fruits vegetables.
First... some definitions.
A phytochemical is a substance of plant origin that has nutritional value. Is also referred to as a phytonutrient.
A nutraceutical is a nutritional supplement based on such a substance.
So the starting point of sound plant-based nutrition is to ensure you are sourcing all the phytonutrients that your body needs as nature provides in a fruit and vegetable diet.
When the body burns oxygen, it creates free radicals as a natural byproduct of cellular metabolism. A free radical has at least one unpaired electron and thus becomes highly chemically reactive.
They readily join with other compounds in cells to eventually disturb the integral structure of other molecules. Cellular damage is the end result – the precursor for general health problems, aging, sickness and disease.
By the way that’s Keithos in the picture, refueling with some watermelon and lemon-based water on a hot summer day!
Key Phytochemicals in
Fruits and Vegetables
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Anthocyanins
These phytochemicals give color – purple, red and blue - to some fruits and vegetables. Examples are egg plant, red cabbage, red onions, radish, most berries, oranges, red currants. Anthocyanins have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Antioxidants
An antioxidant is a substance that reacts with oxygen to neutralize its negative effects - as rust - in food and in the body. Food oxidation manifests as rancidity. You can get undesirable color changes and/or flavors and smells deviating from the norm.
By neutralizing the adverse impacts of free radicals in the body, antioxidants protect cellular integrity.
Nature expresses itself as fruits and vegetables endowed with an infinitesimal range of natural healing properties. Fruits and vegetables are thus the almighty provider of antioxidants to carry out restorative work - and to prevent or limit - due to oxidative damage.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables - Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that fuel bodily energy needs with blood sugar as glucose. In food science the term refers to the complex carbohydrate starch found in whole grain cereals, breads and pasta OR simple carbohydrates found in fruits, sugars or refined plant-based foods.
Simple carbohydrates are in the form of dairy-derived lactose, fructose from fruits and sucrose, usually cane sugar. The body digests these sugars very rapidly compared to complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates are a more sustaining source of energy and do not spike body’s sugar levels. The main sources of these carbohydrates are whole grains, whole grain breads, all legumes and tubers, some fruit and vegetables.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Carotenoids
As compounds, carotenoids are natural fat-soluble pigments related to vitamin A. Specific liver and intestinal activities convert carotenoids to vitamin A. Many carotenoids are antioxidants that protect cells against free radicals. Carotenes are a sub-group of carotenoids. Beta-carotene is the most widely-known carotene. Others that we are familiar with are lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin. Documented evidence exists of the discovery of 100s of these carotenes.
Lutein is an antioxidant-type of carotenoid that may inhibit cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Some sources of this nutrient are spinach, kale, chicory, collard greens, green peas, and lettuce.
Lycopene as a carotenoid can benefit cardiovascular health by preventing LDL – bad - cholesterol oxidation and the reduction of inflammation.
Some sources of lycopene are tomatoes, peppers of color, pink/red grapefruits, pink-fleshed guava, watemelons and persimmons.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Chlorophyll/Glucosinolates
Chlorophyll is the green pigment that is responsible for the green color in most plants. Chlorophyll absorbs light mostly in the red then the blue portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus its intense green color.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts are food examples of rich sulfur-containing glucosinolates. They stimulate the body’s natural antioxidant mechanisms.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables - Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber is a component of plant food materials that the human gastrointestinal tract is unable to digest. All plant-based fiber foods have a combination of both insoluble and water-soluble fibrous materials. Fiber is beneficial to the entire gastrointestinal tract and is food for the symbiotic intestinal bacteria.
Water-soluble fiber keeps you feeling full longer. It slows the rate at which digested food exits the stomach organ. It also slows the speed at which glucose enters the bloodstream. Most vegetables and fruits to varying degrees have insoluble fiber. Strong contenders are legumes, oats, oranges, carrots, pineapples and mangoes.
Insoluble fiber is especially beneficial to the ecological integrity of the lower bowel and its consistent elimination of wastes. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are great suppliers of insoluble plant-based fiber.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Phenolics/Isothiocyanates
Phenolics - or polyphenols - are a large group of phytochemicals that include flavonoids - the largest category, phenolic acids and coumarins. Dietary phenolics are strong antioxidants that protect against free radicals. You can obtain these phenolics from most brightly colored fruits and vegetables.
Flavonoids – or bioflavonoids - are phytonutrients that can have antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, or anti-microbial properties. Most brightly colored fruits and vegetables supply flavonoids.
Isoflavones act as phytoestrogens in mammals. Beans such as chick pea or garbanzo, alfalfa and peanuts are sources of isoflavones. Soybeans are a primary source, providing the isofloavones genestein and daidzein. Tofu a processed food from soybeans, retains most of its isoflavone content. Fermented miso achieves increased levels.
Quercetin is a phytonutrient found in foods like onions, apples, red grapes, red wine, green tea and berries. Quercetin stabilizes cell membranes, has anti-inflammatory properties and can aid balanced immune function during times of extreme physical duress. It has the ability to support healthy histamine levels.
Isothiocyanates are sulfur-containing compounds responsible for the typical flavor of cruciferous vegetables and the hotness of horseradish, radish and mustard. Isothiocyanates can stimulate enzymes that convert estrogen to a more benign form.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Resveratrol/Saponins
Resveratrol is a natural fat-soluble compound found in certain plants and specifically in grapes, mulberries, peanuts or food products like red wine. It functions as an antioxidant and thus could hamper free radical activity.
Saponins are plant constituents known as glycosides with a distinctive foaming, soapy nature.
Nutrition Facts in Fruits Vegetables – Vitamins/Phytosteorls
Fat-soluble and water-soluble make up the two groups of vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K. Their many functions include promoting healthy eyes and bones. The water-soluble vitamins are generally the B vitamins, choline and vitamin C. Most of these are involved in essential enzyme systems and energy metabolism.
Phytosterols - also called – plant sterols are a group of phytochemical steroid alcohols naturally occurring in plants. Phytosterols occur naturally in small quantities in vegetable oils, especially sea buckthorn oil, corn oil and soybean oil.
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Meanwhile, have a look at
these vegetable nutrition facts.
Some sources for information on nutrition facts in fruits vegetables are:
1. Balch, Phyllis A, CNC, Prescription for Nutritional Healing 4th edition
3. Wikipedia – The free encyclopedia
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