Phytochemicals

Listed below is a brief list of food phytochemicals and the health benefits of them:

• Alkaloids – Organic compounds that contain basic nitrogen atoms. Alkaloids act as a depressant on the central nervous system or as a stimulant such as coffee. Alkaloids are used widely in the drug industry. Some alkaloids can be very harmful in large doses.

• Anthocyanins – Belong to the Flavonoids group. They give the dark blue pigments of the fruit or vegetables like the blueberry, raspberry, purple cauliflower, black rice, red cabbage, and more. Research has shown that Anthocyanins help reduce the risk of heart disease in women by decreasing blood pressure and preventing arterial stiffness. Anthocyanins have also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that Anthocyanins play a role in inhibiting tumor growth in the esophagus. They also show promise in preventing the spread of certain cancers.

• Carotenoids – Carotenoids have been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers and the diseases of the eyes. The β-Carotene can be converted to vitamin A. Lutein and Zeaxanthin play a protective role by absorbing the damaging blue light that hits the eyes. Eating foods rich in β-Carotene has been shown to help fight against lung cancer. The lycopene has been found to help protect the skin and tissues. Carotenoids are found in orange, yellow, and red fruit and vegetables.

• Coumestans – Known as phytoestrogens, and it is a derivative of coumarin. These phytochemicals are found in lima beans, split peas, pinto beans, and more. Research has shown that phytoestrogens can lower the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, as well as endometrial cancer.

• Flavan-3-Ols – The Flavan-3-Ols are potent antioxidants that help protect cells from the damage that is caused by free radicals. Substances found in the flavanols-3-ols like Catechin has been shown to help fight hepatitis as well as inflammation of cells in the brain. These antioxidants also help with the ruction of blood glucose levels. Epigallocatechin Gallate has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol as well as lowering high blood pressure. Epigallocatechin Gallate has also been shown to help treat certain cancers such as breast, cervical, prostate, and skin cancers. Some research indicates that Epigallocatechin Gallate has helped prevent Huntington’s disease.

• Flavonols – Flavonols such as Kaempferol found in foods such as apples, grapes, leeks, onions, and more, play a role as a chemopreventive agent meaning that it inhibits the formation of cancer cells. Myricetin has been shown to have anticancer properties, as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Myricetin and Quercetin have also been shown to help prevent LDL oxidation. Quercetin has been found to reduce the risk of cancers such as breast, colon, gastric, ovarian, and prostate.

• Flavanones – Flavanones help reduce the risk of diabetes. They have also been shown fight against the damage caused by free radicals. Flavanones help protects the retina in the eyes. Hesperidin also help buildup collagen with the support of vitamin C. This helps the skin and the joints. It also helps with the lowering of LDL cholesterol.

• Flavones – Flavones play a crucial role in plant signaling and defense. Flavones also have great antioxidant powers. They also have been shown to lower the risk of certain cancers. Flavones can reduce hypertension and obesity. Flavones have been shown to limit the ability of the cell migration which can lessen the metastasis.

• Hydrocinnamic Acids – Research has found that caffein acid and ferulic acid have great anticancer properties. Hydrocinnamic acids also help to protect against UV damage to the skin. Hydrocinnamic acids have also been shown to help reduce body fat by forcing the cell to use body fat as the cell fuel source. Hydrocinnamic Acids can be found in foods such as apples, artichokes, blueberries, carrots, cherries, coffee, lettuce, pears, and wheat.

• Isoflavones – Isoflavones are phytoestrogens and have been shown to provide a variety of benefits. Isoflavones help to fight the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Isoflavones which is found in soya (soybeans) have been studied, and the finding stated that the consumption of soy isoflavones helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. The soy isoflavones which some women avoid because of the estrogen binding don’t realize that there is an alpha estrogen receptor and a beta estrogen receptor. The soy isoflavones always are known as weak estrogen bind to the beta receptor. The alpha receptor binding triggers cell proliferation, the beta receptor binding decreases it.

• Lignans – Studies have shown that the higher intake of lignans has a reduced risk of breast, endometrial, ovarian, and prostate cancers. In a study done in 2009 suggests that postmenopausal that had high intakes of lignans had less body fat and lower blood sugars. Lignans are found in nuts and seeds as well as vegetables, fruit and whole grains, flaxseed having the highest levels. Lignans have also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

• Monophenols – There is not a lot of research information on monophenols. They have been shown to have antioxidants that have been shown to fight free radicals in the body.

• Monoterpenes – Monoterpenes are found in foods such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and parsley. The limonene has been shown to help prevent breast, and liver cancers.

• Organosulfides – The sulfur compounds of organosulfides have been shown to help fight gastric cancer and other cancers. The anticancer properties of garlic are widely known. Garlic has also been shown to promote anti-inflammatory activities by cytokine modulation in the blood. Sulfur-containing phytochemicals have also been shown to reduce blood pressure as well and help boost the immune system.

• Phenolic Acids – Ellagic acid has been shown to help boost the immune system. Capsaicin has been shown to help with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and stomach ulcers. Capsaicin has also been shown to help prevent headaches, migraines, and joint and muscle pain. The phytochemicals found in the phenolic acids such as capsaicin and ellagic acid have been shown to help prevent the growth of tumors. Salicylic acid has also been shown to help prevent psoriasis and shingles. Salicylic acid also helps reduce the signs of aging.

• Phytosterols – Have long been known to help lower cholesterol. Research reports have stated that phytosterols help prevent breast, lung, ovarian, and stomach cancers. The phytosterols also contain antioxidants that help fight against free radicals. The high levels of phytosterols are found in beans and nuts.

• Proanthocyanidins – Proanthocyanidins are a class of polyphenols found in plants. Proanthocyanidins are the main polyphenols found in red wine.

• Saponins – Saponins bind with bile salt and cholesterol which reduces blood cholesterol. Saponins also boost the immune system. They also help lower the risk of cancer by slowing the growth of the cancer cells.

• Stilbenes – Stilbene has been shown to help fight Hodgkin’s Lymphoma by the phytochemical resveratrol with causes apoptosis on cell line L428. They support the protection against free radicals that can damage cells. Stilbene has also been found to help to lower the blood sugar. In other studies resveratrol has been shown to help fight against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

• Tannins – Tannins are found in blueberries, chocolate, coffee, cranberries, grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, strawberries, red wine, tea. Tannins have been shown to help boost the immune. Tannins have also been shown to help people with too much iron in the blood. Tannins are a great source of antioxidants. Tannins are also said to create headaches. The tannins in the plant act as a defense for the plant to prevent it from being consumed. Tannins have been found to help lower total cholesterol. Tannins have also been shown to lower the risk of cancer as well as reducing blood pressure.

• Triterpenoids – Triterpenoids are a class of terpenes that are found in apples, basil, cranberries, peppermint, lavender. Triterpenoids have been shown to fight against breast, and colon cancers. Triterpenoids have also been found to induce apoptosis on T-cell leukemia. Triterpenoids have also been shown to have antioxidants properties.

• Xanthophylls – Xanthophylls are a class of carotenoid. Xanthophylls have been shown to help in the soothing of the stomach as well as reducing inflammation. These phytochemicals also help to protect the kidney from damage. Canthaxanthin and astaxanthin have been shown to help protect the skin from UV damage. Some studies have shown that Xanthophylls can help in the lowering of your blood pressure. Xanthophylls have also been shown to aid in the prevention of gum disease.

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