21 January 2009

What are Phytonutrients and Where to Find Them

We are all told from an early age, that if we want to stay healthy, we need to eat our fruits and vegetables. I have even caught myself saying this same thing to my children, and you know what, it’s true. Although they have always been present, it wasn’t until recently that scientists have discovered something that lends even more credence to that familiar saying of, "eat your vegetables." Phytonutrients (pronounced Fight-O-Nutrients) is the name given to the nutrients in fruits, vegetables, and some nuts, that help in reducing our risk to many diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These phytonutrients really live up to their name and studies show that they can act as antioxidants as well. Antioxidants (Removed dead link) are the substances that help fight against free radicals. Free radicals are naturally-forming molecules that our bodies produce when digesting food, but they can also be caused by environmental factors as well. These free radicals can damage cells which may eventually lead to heart disease, cancer, or other chronic health conditions. The antioxidants fight these free radicals and even help repair the damage they may cause.

To help us in our fight against these free radicals and to develop a healthy lifestyle (Removed dead link), The National Cancer Institute recommends that we eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be. To accomplish this, it is recommended that we eat at least five, different-colored foods each day. Isn’t that great, they even color-coded the food for us; well, actually, nature did, but you get the point. Gone are the days when the green beans or the spinach sat all by themselves at the edge of the plate, untouched, and unloved.

There are a number of different recipes, which you can use to turn those dull veggies into a wonderful meal. For example, how about Florentine Spinach Wedges, which contain spinach, garlic, two types of cheese, onions, and more, to create a mouth-watering dish. Guess what, you can have your vegetables and enjoy them at the same time. Another favorite is tomato soup. Now, I like to have mine with a nice, grilled cheese sandwich, which I dip into the soup and then eat; it tastes just fantastic. If grilled cheese is not your choice, than you can always add cream or, if you have trouble digesting non-cultured dairy products, you can add sour cream or yogurt; thus making your tomato soup into a cream of tomato soup.

Now, I realize that all this may seem a bit overwhelming, but never fear, for we do not have to embark on this journey alone.
Phytolife (Removed dead link) is a place that will help you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They offer you advice on a wide range of topics which include, how to stay energized, aromatherapy, recipes, and even how to choose the right wine to go with your vegetables. Who says that being healthy has to be boring?

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