Studies continue to show that the incidence of cancers and other diseases are lowest in people that eat the most vegetables and fruit. There are various reasons for this, but evidence is mounting to indicate that phytonutrients play an important role in this phenomenon.
Not only are plants packed with vitamins and minerals; they contain special compounds called phytonutrients. There are thousands and thousands of phytocnutrients and each plant has many in its own unique mix. Also called phytochemicals, phytonutrients are what give plants their flavor, scent, and color. Unlike vitamins and minerals that are necessary for survival, phytonutrients are helpful for many chemical processes within the human body, but they are not essential in the same way that vitamins and minerals are.
Phytonutrients provide a plant with everything it needs to survive by protecting it from environmental dangers like radiation, pests, poisons, pollution, drought, heat, disease, injury, and anything else that might come its way. Since a plant cannot move out of danger these phytonutrients are the weapons a plant uses to protect itself.
The same phytochemicals that protect plants and prevent disease can provide similar protection in the human body when we eat them. Phytonutrients can be anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and provide many types of cell protection that prevent damage from occurring in the first place or provide the body with tools to repair damage and restore health. This is why phytonutrients are often considered anti-aging. Studies are showing that these benefits can be significant and that some foods are especially high in certain phytonutrients that have shown to be super good for the human body, which is why the foods that contain these special phytonutrients are being called “super foods”.
Throughout the world there are plants that seem to be especially valuable for human health due to their unique makeups. With modern transportation, these plants can now be distributed from remote areas directly to your doorstep. This makes many “super foods” readily available that would never have been available all in one place before. Now you can have them in your cupboards and available to use in food preparation in your daily meals.
Phytonutrients are responsible for the pungent aromas and flavors, and bright colors in herbs and spices. These flavors, aromas, and colors not only add interest to the foods we eat, they also supply powerful micronutrients that our bodies can use to increase and restore good health, as well as fighting off danger, just as they do with plants. Pretty much all herbs and spices are considered “super foods,” because they have especially high concentrations of phytonutrients. Having a good assortment of herbs and spices on hand for cooking is an essential part of healthy eating habits.
Herbs and spices have been used since the earliest civilizations not only for cooking, but also for healing. Herbal medicine is a common practice today, even with so many pharmaceuticals available. It is becasue phytonutriends are in the herbs and spices we normal eat, so they are recognized as safe and effective for health. Rather than only using them when an illness strikes, they can be used at every meal to help the body fight off various ailments and also to make our food taste delicious. Many doctors now consider good food to be good medicine as well.
Many well-known herbs and spices have profound healing and disease prevention properties. Turmeric, for example, is a widely used spice. Despite its bright color, the flavor it imparts is subtle. It adds more depth and warmth to the flavor of a food. Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.
Besides the well-known herbs and spices, there are exotic plants like maca root or moringa leaf. These are examples of plants harvested from around the world for their special properties that can easily be added to the diet in various ways.
These plants are often dried and ground into powders. Some are put into capsules and taken as supplements or are sold loose to be used for various purposes including herbs and spices used for seasonings and teas.
Trying to solve nutritional problems by taking vitamin supplements cannot possibly make up for the lack of real foods. Ground plant powders, which are real foods, can be put into capsules and sold as supplements to contribute to good health and help resolve problems associated with poor eating habits, but that can be expensive when an easier way is to simply eat a lot of vegetables and fruits and to add in herbs and spices.
An example is turmeric. I checked on iherb.com to find turmeric capsules. There is a jar of 240 capsules available for $20.12. On the other hand, a 1 lb. bag of turmeric is available for $8.32. I would much rather add turmeric to my food and enjoy the warmth and flavor than to swallow it in capsule form, plus it adds a beautiful color to the foods I use it in. I often use a couple of tablespoons in meals for my family. It was in last night’s spaghetti.
Another example is garlic. Purchasing garlic capsules is a lot more expensive than simply adding fresh garlic to your meals. Whole vegetables and fruits are vital to good health. Any number of ailments are related to unhealthy eating habits. Adding in vegetable rich foods such as green smoothies on a daily basis could actually cure numerous health problems.
Plant powder can easily be added to smoothies for a super boost of nutritional power. I have a blend that I make ahead, then add a scoop to my daily smoothie. The recipe for “Cancer Fighting and Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Blend” can be found here.
Three main ways to add these powerful phytonutrients to your diet is to eat more vegetables and a piece of fruit daily, add herbs and spices to practically everything you eat, and drink green smoothies – especially with added plant powders from “super foods”. This will increase phytonutrient consumption and can have a tremendous impact on your health.
For more information and recipes of green smoothies, click here.
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