- Phytonutrients are substances found in plants that promote health and protect against disease.
- Phytonutrients are found in many plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Adding phytonutrients into your diet can offer several health benefits, like promoting a healthy immune system, supporting healthy cell function, and reducing inflammation.
- Eat more phytonutrients by maintaining a balanced, diverse diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables and substituting unhealthy snacks for plants.
We’re all familiar with mainstream nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, and macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates, to name a few. Of course, these are all important, but we must not forget about other precious nutrients that fly under the radar in popularity.
Phytonutrients are subtle nutrients that you won’t find on a nutrition facts label, but they also offer incredible benefits for our health. Phytonutrients are easy to find in a standard diet—just turn to plants.
Found in everything from berries to beans, these nutrients can support your immune health, promote metabolic repair, and more. With an understanding of the many phytonutrients benefits, you can begin building a meal plan that promotes your health and weight loss.
What Are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are natural, bioactive compounds found in plants that are believed to support our health and protect against diseases. These nutrients are found in a wide range of plants, where they act as defenders to help those plants survive disease and insect infestations. When we eat plants and consume the phytonutrients in them, we benefit too.
There have been over 10,000 different phytonutrients identified in dietary plants. The amount of phytonutrients in any given food depends on factors like the source and how it’s grown, which speaks to the importance of eating fresh foods.
Some of the most common phytonutrients include:
- Anthocyanidins – Present in red and purple berries
- Beta-carotene – Found in vegetables like carrots and squash
- Carotenoids – Present in red and orange foods like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin
- Flavonoids – Found in drinks like tea and wine
- Glucosinolates – Found in green cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts
- Phytoestrogens – In sources like soybeans, tofu, flaxseed, and sesame seed
- Resveratrol – Found in sources like grapes, wine, peanuts, and soy
- Ellagic acid – Found in berries like strawberries, and some nuts, like walnuts and pecans
Phytonutrients aren’t exactly essential for our bodies to function, like other vitamins. However, they can protect our cells and give them a boost, so they’re a great addition to our diet.
Foods That Contain Phytonutrients
The best part about phytonutrients is that they’re not hard to find. Since phytonutrients are naturally occurring in plants, you can include them in your diet by eating plant foods—easy!
It can be easy to scoff at the idea of eating more healthy foods. Fortunately, when it comes to phytonutrients, there are many delicious ways to enhance your diet—you just need to know where to look.
Some foods that are rich in phytonutrients include:
- Fruits like berries, mangos, and peaches
- Vegetables like carrots, peppers, and leafy greens
- Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole grain breads or cereals
- Nuts & seeds like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds
- Legumes like dried beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans
These foods don’t all contain the same phytonutrients, so try to include a balance of all these foods in your daily diet. Maintaining variety in your diet maximizes the amount of macro and micronutrients you’ll get—plus, it keeps your taste buds entertained.
Health Benefits of Phytonutrients
Not only are plant foods delicious, but they are great for your health and wellness. Adding more phytonutrients into your diet means you stand to gain plenty of potential health benefits.
Phytonutrients Contain Antioxidants
Antioxidants play an important part in protecting the body from harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that damage cells as a result of oxidation, basically like rust building up in your body and interfering with important functions.
Oxidation speeds up aging in our bodies and leads to conditions like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. With their antioxidant properties, phytonutrients have shown the capacity to reduce the risk of these diseases.
Some of the additional benefits of antioxidants include:
- Maintain healthy eyesight
- Support healthy cognitive function, like memory and motor skills
- Promote healthy aging of cells
If you’re like many other people, you’ll be glad to hear that the antioxidant properties of phytonutrients are also great for your appearance. By limiting free radical buildup, antioxidants also promote healthy skin and hair, slowing signs of aging, like wrinkles and gray hairs.
Phytonutrients Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Chronic inflammation is one of the body’s worst enemies. Chronic inflammation is a contributor to many complications our bodies face, including weight gain, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and even heart disease.
By incorporating more phytonutrients into your diet, you can combat inflammation and support your overall health. Certain families of phytonutrients can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the activation of B cells, which are cells in the body responsible for triggering the body’s inflammatory response.
The benefits of reduced inflammation are wide-reaching, supporting bodily systems from enhanced brain function to improved joint mobility.
Phytonutrients Support Immune System Health
Our immune systems help provide us with a line of defense against outside pathogens and bacteria that make us sick. A diet that includes a steady stream of phytonutrients may support our immune system both directly and indirectly.
Directly, phytonutrients work as antimicrobial agents, which means they make it more difficult for viruses and bad bacteria to survive in the body. Indirectly, they help support a healthy immune system response with less inflammation.
Phytonutrients May Support Weight Loss
Phytonutrients have shown promising effects for promoting a healthy weight. Although these nutrients are not proven weight loss products on their own, they can be a valuable piece of the puzzle to include on your weight loss journey.
Some phytonutrients have been found to discourage the storage of adipose tissue, also known as body fat. These nutrients may also promote a faster metabolism, which can contribute to healthy weight management as well.
Metabolic repair is a fundamental part of the weight loss process, as the metabolism is responsible for converting the foods we eat and stored body fat into energy it can use.
One of the key benefits of phytonutrients for weight loss is even more subtle—foods with phytonutrients will fill you up without the excess calories. These foods give you more bang for your buck, offering more nutrition with fewer calories. By eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, you’ll have less room for other high-calorie, unhealthy foods, like sugary or fatty foods.
How To Incorporate Phytonutrients Into Your Diet
The biggest upside of these nutrients is that they’re not difficult to include in your diet. Phytonutrients are natural compounds found in plant foods, so you can easily enjoy more phytonutrients by just eating more plants. Follow a balanced diet that includes a mix of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber to reap the benefits.
Some great ways to incorporate more phytonutrients in your diet include:
- If you struggle to eat fruits and vegetables, try making smoothies to incorporate a variety of them into your diet.
- Swap out starches like white rice and white bread for whole-grain alternatives
- Snack on a handful (not too much; nuts are high in calories) of unsalted or low-salt nuts when you’re hungry
- Add legumes to your dinner by making a lentil soup or a three-bean chili
- Substitute phytonutrient-rich black, kidney, or pinto beans into your dinner meals
- Mix up a salad with your favorite greens and vegetables
- Make yourself a cup of green tea
Achieve Your Health and Weight Loss Goals with re:vitalize
Phytonutrients are an underrated addition to your meals. Although they aren’t listed on a nutrition facts label, they certainly have plenty of nutritional benefits. From immune system support to healthy weight management, there are many reasons to include more phytonutrients in your diet. Since they are found in many nutritious, whole foods, they also provide a great way to eat other beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
Still, phytonutrients are just one piece of a well-balanced diet. At re:vitalize weight loss and wellness, we’ll help you build a full roadmap to long-lasting weight loss. Using our BioScan™ technology, we’ll help you identify which macro and micronutrients are optimal for your weight loss and wellness so you can build a nutrition plan that is anti-inflammatory in nature and supports your goals.
Schedule a consultation with re:vitalize to learn more about how our programs can support you on your path to weight loss and wellness.