Phytonutrients are essential nutrients that help keep you healthy.

Do you ever hear people talking about “free radicals” and think they must be health radicals? Well — free radicals are actually a real thing that can be both good and bad depending on how much you have in your body. Keeping your free radicals in check is relatively easy.

Two [2] things that you need to do to keep your free radicals in check. 

1/ Minimize your exposure to toxins.

Think of toxin exposure kind of like antagonizing an older sibling. It’s fun for a few seconds but then there are consequences that are usually not so fun — especially if you do it often. A good example is smoking.

Smoking is one of those things that might feel good for the few seconds while you do it but has big health consequences later. Some experts believe pesticides, sun and sugar are also toxic to the body. So do what you can to limit your exposure to those things as well as to metals, environmental toxins and high-oxygen atmospheres that may stimulate the body to over produce free radicals.

2/ Phytonutrients help keep your free radical levels in check.

Phytonutrients sounds like another word for health radicals but phytonutrients are just nutrients found in certain plants which are believed to be beneficial to human health. 

The scientific names for phytonutrients [aka: antioxidants, flavonoids, phytochemicals, flavones, isoflavones, catechizes, anthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides and polyphenols] make eating well sound complicated.

Don’t be fooled. It sounds more complicated than it really is if you’re eating a balanced diet. Phytonutrients are found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. 

Best sources of phytonutrients

Nutrients found in these types of food help keep your free radical levels in check and prevent damage to your cells. Preventing damage helps keep you healthy.

1/ Beta-Carotene: Found in pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots, spinach, collard greens, kale and broccoli.

Health benefit: Immune System, vision, skin health and bone health

2/ Lycopene: Found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, red peppers, watermelon, tomato products

Health benefit: Prostate cancer and heart health

3/ Lutein: Found in collard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels, sprouts, lettuce and artichokes.

Health benefit: Eye health, cancer and heart health

4/ Resveratrol: Found in red wine, peanuts and grapes

Health benefit: Heart health, cancer, lung health and inflammation

5/ Anthocyanidins: Found in blue berries, black berries, plums, cranberries, raspberries, red onion, red potatoes, red radishes and strawberries

Health benefit: Blood vessel health

6/ Isoflavones: Found in soybeans

Health benefit: menopause, breast cancer, joint inflammation and lower cholesterol

Get more food recommendations

If you need to increase a specific vitamin or mineral in your diet, get a free list of the best sources. The USDA makes the best food sources searchable by nutrient.

Can you get phytonutrients from supplements?

The studies on antioxidant supplements is fuzzy. Why? It is hard for scientists to control biases that affect the results. That’s why there is no definitive answer on the value of supplements.

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