Because plant-based foods contain more than 100,000 different disease-preventing nutrients—more specifically, more than 100,000 phyto-nutrients, phyto for the Greek word for plant. Blueberries have anthocyanins that may help with memory. Tomatoes are rich in the red pigment lycopene, which may help target heart disease and cancer, and ginger has gingerols that may help with hypertension. Intake of citrus has been associated with reduced stroke risk perhaps thanks to its phytonutrient hesperidin, which appears to increase blood flow throughout the body, including the brain. The list goes on. And we can’t just take these phytonutrients in a pill. When it comes to food, the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. Beta carotene pills, for example, may actually increase cancer risk, as opposed to the whole carrot, which may lower our risk. (Who could swallow 100,000 pills a day anyway?)
Hundreds of phytonutrients have been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Six months of consuming the phytonutrients curcumin, the bright-yellow pigment in turmeric, and quercetin, which is found naturally in such fruits and vegetables as red onions and grapes, appeared to decrease the number and size of polyps by more than half in patients with a hereditary form of colorectal cancer. And many phytonutrients may help block the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors, and others appear to defend against toxic invaders. Researchers found that phytonutrients in such plant foods as fruits, vegetables, tea leaves, and beans can block the effects of dioxins in vitro, for example. Having phytonutrient levels in the bloodstream achieved by eating three apples a day or a tablespoon of red onion appeared to cut dioxin toxicity in half. As these phytonutrient effects lasted only a few hours, we should make sure to eat healthy foods at every meal.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Image Credit: Joshua Resnick © 123RF.com. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Phytonutrients
Food SynergyCombining certain foods together may be more beneficial than eating them separately.
Chocolate and Stroke RiskDark chocolate is pitted against milk chocolate in a test of artery function.
Brown, Black, Purple, and Red Unlike White on RiceWhite rice is missing more than fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Phytonutrients such as gamma oryzanol...
Specific Receptors for Specific Fruits and VegetablesDietary diversity is important because each plant family has a unique combination of phytonutrients that...
Industry Response to Plants Not PillsThe whole food is greater than the sum of its parts: how unscrupulous marketers use...
What Are the Healthiest Foods?Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which foods best supply shortfall nutrients while avoiding...
How May Plants Protect Against Diabetes?Protective properties of whole plant foods against diabetes include antioxidants, lipotropes, fiber, and the ability...
Fruits, Veggies, and Longevity: How Many Minutes Per Mouthful?The first study to gauge how much longer we live based on the number of...
Antioxidant-Rich Foods with Every MealTo stay out of oxidative debt, we need to take in more antioxidants than we...
BRCA Breast Cancer Genes and SoyOne reason why soy consumption is associated with improved survival and lower recurrence rates in...
All Videos for Phytonutrients
Does Coffee Inhibit Iron Absorption? What Are the Effects of Having Too Much Iron?
Coffee and common herbal teas impair iron absorption, which may help explain some of their benefits.
The Best Diet for Fibromyalgia and Other Chronic Pain Relief
Anti-inflammatory diets can be effective in alleviating chronic pain syndromes.
Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Fava Beans (Faba or Broad Beans)
Fava bean sprouts and soy nuts are put to the test for Parkinson’s disease as natural sources of L-dopa.
The Fat-Blocking and Appetite-Suppressing Effects of Thylakoids
What is a natural way to cut down on unhealthy food cravings?
Do Vegans Have Lower Bone Mineral Density and Higher Risk of Osteoporosis?
Those eating plant-based tend to be so much slimmer that their bone mass may suffer.
Blocking the Cancer Metastasis Enzyme MMP-9 with Beans and Chickpeas
Which legumes are best at inhibiting the matrix metalloproteinase enzymes that allow cancer to become invasive?
Fighting the Ten Hallmarks of Cancer with Food
The foundation of cancer prevention is plants, not pills.
Plant-Based Eating Score Put to the Test
How can you get a perfect diet score?
Are Baruka Nuts the Healthiest Nut?
How do barukas, also known as baru almonds, compare with other nuts?
The Role Meat May Play in Triggering Parkinson’s Disease
What does the gut have to do with developing Parkinson’s disease?