Phytonutrients, beyond vitamins and minerals

When we listen to the recommendation of eating a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, we always think about the importance of these foods to include vitamins and minerals in the diet, but beyond that, it is also essential to consume vegetables and various colors , to ensure the presence of phytonutrients in our diet

What are phytonutrients?

As the name implies, these are substances of plant origin that although they have no specific nutritional value, except for some of them, they beneficial effect on the health of the organism and can contribute to prevent different diseases.

As we have previously reported in Direct to the Palate, there are different types of phytonutrients and depending on this we can find some allies of skin health, others that favor and care for vision and others that protect against different types of cancer.

These substances that we find widely distributed in the vegetable world, also fulfill their function in the vegetables and fruits themselves, giving it color, flavor and even contributing to its development, therefore, the more intense color of vegetables, the more likely to obtain phytonutrients.

Types of phytonutrients and their benefits

So that you know a little better these substances that can benefit your health just by including them in your dishes, we present the following table where they are shown different types of phytonutrients, the color that identifies them, the source ingredients of these substances and their main benefits on our body:

ColorPhytonutrientBenefitsFood source
Red LycopeneProtects the heart, vascular system and reduces the risk of prostate cancer Cranberry, tomato and pink grapefruit
Orange Beta carotene Anti-aging, antioxidant and protects the skin. Orange, carrot, pumpkin
Purple Flavonoids Promotes blood circulation and reduces cardiovascular riskGrapes, blackberries, strawberry, plum
Yellow Lutein and Zeaxanthin Protects eyesight, take care of the skin and have antioxidant functionCorn, Melon
Green Carotenes and sulfuraphanes Reduce the risk of cancer and strengthen defensesBroccoli, spinach, cabbage, chard, lettuce
WhiteOrganosulfides They prevent infections, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer and promote blood circulationGarlic, onion, cauliflower, turnip.
blue Anthocyanins They stimulate the brain, protect against urinary infections, have antioxidant and anti-aging function Cranberry, blackberry

As we can see, according to colors From the ingredients of our dishes, we can incorporate different types of these substances that are associated with a lower risk of disease and better health in general.

How to add phytonutrients to your dishes

So that these beneficial substances are not lacking in your dishes, you can consider the following tips:

  • Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables and intense color, which are the ones that concentrate the most beneficial substances and the ones that have the greatest nutritional contribution.
  • Use more fresh herbs to spice up your recipes, as these can also add phytonutrients to your diet.
  • Include different colors in your dishes, which as we have said, the more colors, the greater the diversity of nutrients and phytonutrients.
  • Use more fresh and less processed foods, because industrial treatment can not only modify the taste and color of food but also can reduce the content of these substances beneficial to the body.
  • Guarantees the presence of 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables at least in your menu, in order to favor sufficient consumption of phytonutrients.

Keep in mind the advice given above and remember that phytonutrients they are beneficial substances for health that go beyond vitamins and minerals of fruits and / or vegetables, therefore, you should also try to include them in the usual diet, using colorful and seasonal dishes.