Phytonutrients are nutritive substances of plant origin required for normal body functioning. The word “phyto” means plant, so phytonutrients are literally known as plant nutrients derived from plant sources like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts etc. The phytonutrients works along with other nutrients like vitamins, minerals etc. within the human body to ensure proper growth and development. There are hundreds of phytonutrients discovered so far and the most common among them are carotenoids, flavanoids, organosulfurs, plant sterols, indoles, lignans etc.
There are no specific recommendations available for consumption of phytonutrients so far. As they are derived from plants, an average adult individual should consume at least seven to nine servings of plant products including variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts etc.
There are number of food items found rich in phytonutrients. Some of them are:
Fruits and vegetables of varying colors like yellow, orange, red and green. Example: Apricots, berries like strawberry, blueberry, blackberry etc., carrots, mangos, melons, orange and other citrus fruits, peaches, pumpkins, squashes etc.
Dark colored leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, kale etc.
Onion and garlic.
Whole grains and whole grain products like brown rice, barley, whole wheat bread etc.
Coffee and teas including green tea, black tea etc.
Nuts like walnuts, almonds etc.
Seeds like sunflower seed, sesame, flax seed etc.
Legumes like peas, beans, lentils etc.
Phytonutrients are very much essential to promote proper growth with their following mode of action:
They act as good anti-oxidants and thereby help in preventing the cell damage.
Phytonutrients helps in reducing the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
It also plays an important role in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, stroke etc.
Phytonutrients have good antibacterial and antiviral action.
They help in stimulating the immune function.
Phytonutrients are also found to have an effective role in hormone action.
Phytonutritients are non toxic and they do not cause any side effects. But as some people may have allergy towards specific food items like nuts, dark chocolates etc., the use of such food items should be avoided by them. Over usage of phytonutrients may lead to some mild symptoms.