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The Health Benefits of Phytochemicals


Did you know researchers all over the world have consistently found that people who eat greater amount of fruits and vegetables have lower rates of cancer? Studies have found that those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were about half as likely to have cancer as those who ate the least. In addition to the vitamins, mineral and fiber found in fruits and vegetables, there are at least a dozen groups of chemicals that are phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals are substances that plants naturally produce to protect themselves against viruses, bacteria and fungi. Research shows that certain phytochemicals protect against cancer, heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Listed below are some of the most common phytochemicals along with their food sources and proposed health benefits.

  • Sulfides (allyl)

  • Food Sources: Garlic, onion, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts

  • Health Effect: Cancer prevention, suppresses tumor development

  • Capsaicin

  • Food Sources: Hot chili peppers, Thai peppers, jalapenos

  • Health Effect: Cancer prevention, usual pain reliever

  • Carotenoids

  • Food Sources: Carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, apricots

  • Health Effect: Antioxidant, heart disease and cancer prevention, improved immune function

  • Bioflavonoids

  • Food Sources: Most vegetables and fruits, licorice, flaxseed, green tea