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Antioxidant April – The Power of Phytonutrients — No Shoes Nutrition | Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant + Coach

Antioxidant April – The Power of Phytonutrients — No Shoes Nutrition | Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant + Coach

The Antioxidant Superhero’s You Might Not Have Heard About!

By: Megan Barefoot

Welcome to week two of Antioxidant April where we are trying to make sure you are aware of what antioxidants are and why they are so important. This week I would like to introduce you to phytonutrients. Phytonutrients, also known as phytochemicals, are naturally occurring compounds that are found in plants. They are responsible for the color, flavor, and smell of fruits and vegetables and they are believed to have various health benefits when consumed as part of a healthy diet. Some examples of phytonutrients include carotenoids (such as beta carotene and lycopene), flavonoids (such as quercetin and catechin), and indoles.

Phytonutrients are not essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, but they may help to protect against chronic conditions and issues. They may also have anti-inflammatory effects and help boost the immune system. Many phytonutrients are antioxidants which means they help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This is the theme for the month and we learned last week that antioxidants can be found in food and can be supplemented to help slow aging and help us feel amazing.

Here are five examples of different phytonutrients and how to get more of them in your diet:

  1. Carotenoids – They are responsible for the bright colours of many plants. Carotenoids may be important for health because of their antioxidant activity. Some carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are important for eye health especially with conditions like macular degeneration. Research suggests that carotenoids may help boost the immune system and protect against infection. Carotenoids such as lycopene may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues by lowering cholesterol levels and improving blood vessel function and beta-carotene may also help protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun and may have anti-aging effects as well.

  2. Flavonoids – Flavonoids are found in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. They like other phytonutrients are powerful antioxidants and some such as the catechins and quercetin may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular issues like reducing blood pressure and improving inflammation in the blood vessels. Flavonoids have also been found to help cognitive function and protect against age-related decline in brain function. Quercetin is specifically important when it comes to inflammation due to allergies and histamine build up.

  3. Indoles – Indoles are a powerful phytonutrient found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. They have anti-inflammatory effects for the cardiovascular system and may help reduce cholesterol levels. The unique super power for indoles is the hormone balancing effects they have for both men and women!

  4. Saponins – These phytonutrients are found in legumes and some veggies. They are named after the Soapwart plant which was traditionally used to make soap. They are most known for their cholesterol lowering effects and the anti-inflammatory effects they have on the entire body.

  5. Allyl sulfides – These are my favorite phytonutrients as they are in some of my favorite foods! Garlic, onions and leeks are great to add to many dishes for flavor AND to reduce inflammation! They have been found to improve blood pressure and to support the immune system! Allyl sulfides also help reduce the severity of food sensitivity and allergy reactions.

It is important to work phytonutrients into your regular eating routine. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables both cooked and raw, and of all colours of the rainbow! These nutrients are often found in the skin, seeds and other parts of the plant that are removed during processing so to get the most phytonutrients you will need to choose whole foods over juice or canned products. If you can get the plants locally grown and in season you will boost your nutrient intake as well and boost the flavors because as you now know, these phytochemicals are responsible for the taste and smell of the food too! If you have something stopping you from eating foods rich in these awesome super nutrients you can consider supplements however it is always best to get nutrients from whole foods whenever possible as many nutrients work synergistically together to give you the maximum health benefit!

Are you ready to get even healthier? Are you looking to add nutrient dense foods in new and exciting ways? Are you curious about how health coaching can help you on your journey to optimal health? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with us today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation.  We work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!