Phytochemicals are compounds that have been found to protect the body from chronic disease patterns. These conditions are becoming more common, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and neurodegeneration like dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research is finding that a diet rich in phytochemicals protects the body from physical and environmental stressors that lead to chronic disease. Some of these phytochemicals are called polyphenols and phenolic acids and are abundant in fruits and vegetables.
Some examples are:
- Quercitin: Falls under the class of a flavonoid, and sometimes a distinction is made between it and other polyphenols. It has anti-inflammatory properties, is an antioxidant, and also has been found to reduce blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can sometimes indicate the prevalence of poor, unhealthy fats in the diet and too much processed, refined sugar. Quercitin is found in green tea, red onion, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.
- Anthocyanin: Common in berries and responsible for their beautiful colors! These include blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, bing cherries, black current, and acai. Anthocyanin actually acts as a sunscreen for plants by absorbing damaging UV light, so it any surprise that in our own bodies, it has been found to be a potent antioxidant? The sun is one source of free radical damage, and anthocyanins can help mitigate the effects of oxidative stress.