phytonutrients!

I became fascinated by phytonutrients (or plant based nutrients) when I first began studying nutrition. Again and again I was reading about how a food and nutrition could trigger healing as well as enhance health, and it was plants and phytonutrients that played a key role in this. And I was amazed! Personally I would love to see an RDA being created due to their importance in protecting so many aspects of our health. And to give you an idea of how they do so, I’ve provided a summary of them on this page of my other site: joyofnutrients.com

Below are some descriptions of Carotenes and Flavonoids, as well as Chlorophyll. And I strongly advise you to check out the links at the bottom, under Further Resources. Maybe you become a fan of these natural health promoters and start wanting to see an RDA for them too – please tell me if you do!

betacaroteneCarotenes:

Qualities: Conversion to Vitamin A, anti-oxidant capacity, correlation with maximum life-span potential

  1. There are over 400 carotenes, but only 30 to 50 have Vitamin A or pro-vitamin A capacity
  2. Beta-carotene is highest in pro-vitamin A capacity
  3. Conversion to Vitamin A:
  • Depends on level of Vitamin A, protein status, thyroid hormones, zinc, Vitamin C
  • If Vitamin A in body is sufficient, Carotene is stored in cells
  • Unconverted carotenes stored in fat cells, epithelial cells and organs (adrenals, testes, ovaries have highest concentrations)
  • High carotene intake = lower risk of cancer, anti-tumor and immune-enhancing activity

Sources:

  • Vegetables – dark green (kale, collards, spinach): the greater the concentration of green, the greater the concentration of beta-carotene
  • Vegetables and Fruit – yellow-orange (apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, squash: the greater the intensity of colour, the greater the Pro-vitamin A content
  • Juicing ruptures cell membranes liberating carotenes for easier absorption

Toxicity: No known toxicity from plant carotenes!

Resources: The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University

Plant-flavonoidsFlavonoids:

Qualities: Free-radical saviours

Identifiable: they are responsible for colours of fruit and flowers

Functions:

  1. Save plants from environmental stress
  2. Biological response modifiers, altering body responses to allergens, viruses, carcinogens
  3. Anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-viral, anti-carcinogenic
  4. Increase Vitamin A levels within cells, decrease leakiness and breakages of small blood vessels, protect against free-radical damage, support joint structures
  5. Collagen saviour
  • Collagen destroyed during inflammatory processes (eg rheumatoid arthritis, periodontal disease, gout, inflammatory conditions involving bones, joints, cartilage, connective tissue)
  • Anthocyanidins and other flavonoids
    • Cross link collagen fibers resulting in reinforcement
    • Prevent free-radical damage with anti-oxidant and free-radical scavenging action
    • Inhibit destruction to collagen from white blood cells during inflammatory process
    • Prevent release and synthesis of inflammatory compounds (eg histamine)

Flavonoids have been shown to reverse the plaques of arthritis and atherosclerosis and inhibit formation and secretion of inflammatory compounds that produce allergic response

Resources: 

chlorophyllChlorophyll:

Qualities:

  1. Stimulates hemoglobin, production of red blood cells and prevents excessive menstrual blood flow
  2. Very similar to heme portion of red blood cells
  3. Anti-cancer and anti-oxidant effects
  4. Astringent: stimulates wound healing, especially of skin and GI tract
  5. Natural chlorophyll is fat soluble and absorbed better than water soluble supplements

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (1998). The complete book of juicing. Roseville, CA: Prima publishing

Further Resources:

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