Phytochemicals are the compounds found in plants that have potential to help prevent chronic diseases like cancer. They can potentially strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and help DNA repair, slow cancer cell growth, regulate hormones and prevent damaged cells from reproducing. (1) The American Cancer Society recommends eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. If you eat a lot of fruits and veggies you are eating a lot of phytochemicals.
Beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin are all carotenoids. They inhibit cancer growth, improve immunity, support vision and improve your skin. Broccoli, carrots, cooked tomatoes, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, winter squash, apricots, cantaloupe, oranges and watermelon are all good sources of carotenoids. It’s not just carrots anymore!
These compounds can prevent the formation of cancer and also prevent inflammation. They are found in green tea, grapes, berries, citrus fruits, apples, whole grains and peanuts. These foods contain ellagic acid and resveratrol. Although wine is a source of resveratrol, we don’t recommend wine because of the huge number of calories and large amounts of sugars that you can drink if you have the habit of drinking wine. There is always a potential for addiction to alcohol and with these factors in mind, you have to consider long and hard if you want to drink wine or just eat good whole, healthy fruits and vegetables for your resveratrol fix.
Apples, onions, soybeans, coffee, tea and citrus fruits are sources of flavonoids. They are known to inhibit tumor growth, reduce inflammation and boost immunity. They contain anthocyanins, quercitin and catechins. I had a Great Aunt who always ate the white, fibrous covering on citrus fruits that’s just underneath the peeling. She said it was for the quercitin. She lived to be almost 100 in good health almost every day of her life.
These powerhouse compounds inhibit tumor growth and limit the production of cancer-related hormones. They’re found in soybeans and other soy products. I eat a lot of soy. It helps me retain some curves while I cut body fat.
Indoles and Glucosinolates
These chemicals can help lower your cancer risk by preventing tumor growth and decreasing production of cancer-causing hormones. They are found in broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprounts. I have read great reports on cauliflower for years. Nowadays it is being used for everything from pizza crust to mashed “potatoes”. Give this cancer fighter a try. It has a mild flavor and is quite versatile in recipes.
There are different types of inositols and phytic acid is available in bran from corn, oats, rice, rye and wheat. Nuts and soybeans are also good sources of phytic acid. It prevents damage to cells so that when they replicate they reproduce a healthy cell.
Phytochemicals are found in all plant foods, not just fruits and vegetables. It’s best to get your phytos from whole foods instead of supplements. The best way to insure that you are getting enough is to always have a colorful plate. Like Mom said, “Eat your vegetables…(fruits and grains.)