Phytonutrients: The Healing Power of Plants

Phytonutrients: The Healing Power of Plants

We all hear about the value of eating our fruits and veggies. Let’s take a look at the power of their potent ingredient: phytonutrients.

Phytonutrients are from plants (phyto means ‘from plants” in Greek) and are neither vitamins nor minerals. Phytochemical simply means “plant chemical’. Researchers estimate there are 30,000 to 50,000 of these, of which 1,000 have been isolated, and a mere 100 analyzed and tested. Modern science now believes phytonutrients are what defend and protect our trillions of cells from disease. The number of phytonutrients in a single, unprocessed, plant food is remarkable. When we eat these plants, the phytonutrients protect the bloodstream, cells, tissues, membranes, mitochondria, skin, organs and immune system functions from the onslaught of synthetic chemicals, toxins, automobile or factory emissions, bacteria, pesticides, viruses, fungi, yeast, microbes, mutagens, food additives, free radicals and carcinogens.

Nature has designed plants with successful defense mechanisms. For example, the sulfur in onions and garlic repel bugs, and deep orange colored foods like carrots, apricots and squash contain beta-carotene to protect them from strong sunlight. This amazing natural system benefits us as well.

Well-known phytonutrients:

• Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, found in cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli and kale, are recognized for the role they play in protection against cancer, and in particular, breast cancer.

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• Turmeric is a powerful carcinogenic inhibitor, with its’ naturally occurring curcumin.

• Resveratol, found in the skin and pulp of dark grapes, has been researched extensively, and is said to contain powerful cancer-inhibiting qualities as well.

• Lycopene, one of the thousands of phytonutrients in tomatoes, is a cancer-preventing antioxidant, due to its ability to interfere with the production of nitrosamines, implicated in the development of stomach cancer.

Read more about modern food and phytonutrient levels

Common Foods and Phytonutrients•  Onions, garlic, leeks, chives: allium and organosulphur compounds.

•  Broccoli, cauliflower, kale: indoles, and isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane.

•  Blueberries, plums, dark beans: anthocyanins.

•  Carrots, yam, cantaloupe, winter squash: carotenoids.

•  Citrus fruits, tomatoes: coumarins.

•  Anise and licorice: glyceritinic acid.

•  Beans and other legumes: isoflavones, protease inhibitors, saponins.

•  Whole grains (brown rice, oats, wheat, rye): lignans, phenolic acids, inositols.

•  Nuts and seeds: lignans.

•  Citrus fruit: limonene.

•  Tomatoes and red grapefruit: lycopene.

• Cocoa, tea, and most fruits and veggies: phenols.

Now, we have lots of reasons to make multiple trips to the salad bar, and to embrace the many new raw food creations that are popping up!

Read more about summer salads and healthy snacks

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Paulette Millis is dedicated to helping people through good nutrition. As a speaker, trainer and writer, she has 20 years of experience helping people through life issues and healing challenges. SCN airs fifteen three minute nutrition information segments with Paulette, called Cooking for Health. She is the author of 3 books, Cook Your Way to Health, Eat Away Illness and What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You About Foods, as well as numerous articles and columns. She has a special interest in digestive disorders, diabetes, women’s health, weight loss, hypothyroidism, and hormonal imbalances. Her passion for healing is personal and professional, brought about by her own healing journey. Using natural foods, environmental and lifestyle changes, detoxification and emotional healing, she has rebuilt her immune system and her life. Paulette is an active speaker for organizations on various health-related topics and also see clients regularly for nutritional consulting, nutritional assessments, and/or personal counseling. Paulette is a Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP), a Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP), and is a member of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants (IONC). She is a Registered Social Worker and is Reality Therapy Certified, and has worked for many years as a Certified Family Life Educator. When it comes to nutrition, Paulette believes in the old saying “Everything in moderation”. For more information about Paulette, visit her website at