I am hoping that since the last post you had the opportunity to get your hands on some berries. If not maybe you have the intention to. I personally purchased two baskets of strawberries and two baskets of blackberries from the farmers market. I usually wait until the end of the strawberry season(late August-September) because the price goes down as the season goes on. But at this time the price was affordable, so that is really good for my body because I am currently providing it with an adequate supply anthocyacins(reason why blackberries are black and strawberries are red).
To review, phytochemicals are the healthy chemical compounds that give vegetables and fruits their color. In plants these phytochemicals protect plants from the various stresses that come up in their lives. When we eat vegetables and fruits our body utilizes the same phytochemicals that are found in plants. So that our bodies can fight the similar stresses that our own bodies experience; in some cases the stresses are exactly the same. We also need phytochemicals for our bodies to function efficiently. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, research has shown that consuming these phytochemicals may help strengthen your immune system as well as decrease you risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure, stoke, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It would benefit you if you could take up the habit of consuming vegetables and fruits that represent all the colors of the rainbow.
I did want to add, that your body constantly works on maintaining your bodies pH at around 7.4. Different foods that we eat effect the pH of our bodies differently, for example, animal products, legumes, and grains make our bodies more acidic. Vegetables and fruits may also make our bodies acidic but they also contain alkalizing minerals, which buffer the acidic effects of animal products, legumes, and grains. So people who eat primarily animal products, foods high in sugar, salt, fat and highly processed foods are actually suffering from metabolic acidosis.
Phytochemicals can be categorized in several ways. But I really like how Marcia Zimmerman, CN, categorized phytochemicals based on their chemical structure. The different families are: terpenes, organosulfur compounds, phenols, lipids, Organic acids and polysaccharides(note: Organic acids and Polysaccharides are in the same family). Feel free to click on the different links below to gain access to more information as well as what the structures look like.
Terpenes are essentially single to multiple chains hydrocarbons, a lot of them are isoprene derevatives(isoprene by itself helps trees alleviate aboitic stress and temperature stress).
Organosulfur compounds are organic compounds that contain sulfur as part of their structure.
Lipids are compounds that do not dissolve in water, such as fats, sterols, waxes and fat-soluble vitamins.
Organic acids and Polysaccharides: organic acids are organic compounds that have acidic properties, which is to dissociate in a solution, releasing its hydrogen ions(H+). As a result the PH of the solution is lowered. Polysaccharides are long sugar compounds.
The Break Down of Phytochemicals
Within the terpene family we want to focus on carotenoids, liminoids, anthocyanins and saponins.
Carotenoids are really what make certain vegetables and fruits orange(color), such as carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes. cantaloupe, peaches, pumpkin, apricots, and mangoes. There are at least 600 different types of carotenoids(did I not warn you that there is a lot of information surrounding nutrition and diet?) and within that there are different derivatives such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, delta and gamma-carotene; this is based on how oxidation effects them. Vegetables and fruits high in carotene provide vitamin A, they protect DNA from damage, and they protect the body from certain cancers: lung, colorectal, breast, uterine, and prostate cancer.
Liminoids are a certain type of monoterpene that are found in the peels of citrus fruits. According to Ms. Zimmerman, one study showed that taking standardized extracts of d-limonene, pinene and eucalyptol could be effective in the clearing of congestive mucus from the lungs of patients with effective pulmonary disease.
Anthocyanins are what make vegetables and fruits appear blue, red or purple. For example, blackberries, cherries, red cabbage, eggplant, black rice, etc. Anthocyanins are beneficial for bacterial infections, inflammation and certain cancers.
Saponins are believed to be very beneficial for the skin. Because of their capability of holding water on the skin as well as being antimicrobial(our skin is covered with bacteria).
Organosulfur Compounds are found in cruciferous foods, onions, garlic, and produce in the mustard family. There are many classes of sulfides, for this we are going focus on glucosinolates and allylic sulfides.
Glucosinolates are really good at activating the detoxification abilities of the liver, specifically the enzymes in the liver. There is also the speculation that glucosinolates can prevent tumor growth, particularly breast, liver, colon, lung, stomach and the esophagus.
Allylic sulfides, garlic and onions being the most sought after, also include leeks, chives and shallots. Allylic sulfides are activated via oxidation, this is why in a previous post I recommended that you let smashed/chopped garlic sit for at least 15 minutes before consuming. Allylic sulfides are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, have detoxification properties, and they seem to block the activity of toxins produced by bacteria and viruses.
According to Ms. Zimmerman, indols are considered to be one of the most effective dietary agents against colon cancer. They are also effective against hormone related cancers.
Phenols are beneficial in protecting the heart and vascular system, preventing dental problems and certain cancers. They can be found in grapes, grape juice, strawberries, raspberries, red wine green and black tea. Polyphenols are multi-phenolic complexes, because of the potential for different derivatives, the result is a wide range of biological potential.
Polyphenols, also known as flavan-3-ols, include catechins, which are very important because catechins are found in green tea; we really like green tea. Another important polyphenol is resveratrol, which is found in red grapes and wine. Resveratrol is suspected of preventing tumor growth and it is considered as anti-inflammatory.
Organic acids, Polysaccharides, Esters, and Lactones are considered antioxidants, antibacterial, ant-inflammatory and they have cancer preventative properties. You can find these in herbs, grains, spices, and a few vegetables and fruits. Below is a quote taken from Ms. Zimmerman’s website(2001), it goes further into the phytonutrients in this family:
They include the acids; oxalic (spinach, rhubarb, tea, coffee), tartaric (apricots, apples), cinnamic (aloe, Kava), caffeic (burdock, hawthorn), ferulic (oats, rice), gallic (tea), ellagic (guava), chlorogenic (echinacea), salicylic (peppermint) and tannic (nettles, tea, berries). Some are familiar because they are named for species from which they were first identified (ie, vanillic in vanilla bean). Others such as gallic team up with phenols – in this case catechins – found in green tea, berries and grapes. Catechin-gallate complexes (esters) are “super-charged” antioxidants with enhanced anti-cancer and anti-tumor effects.( 68) The Kava lactones methysticin, dihydrokawain and kawain also belong to this family. Kava lactones account for the anti-anxiety, relaxant, anti-inflammatory and anti-pyretic effects of Kava Kava. (69)”
Last but not least we will cover lipids. Which are beneficial in preventing disorders derived from hormonal problems and they are also considered anti-inflammatory. We will touch on isoprenoids, tocotrienols, ubiquinone, lipoic acid, omega-3’s and omega-6’s.
Isoprenoids are considered antioxidants but where they stand out is there unique property of anchoring themselves in membranes. Vitamin E is in the isoprenoid family, which is no coincidence because vitamin E is very good for the skin. Vitamin E can disable free-radicals when it interacts with co-enzyme, vitamin C, gluthathione, and alpha lipoic acid.
Tocotorienols can be found in grains, palm oil and rice. tocotriels appear to have tumor inhibiting properties, as well as cholesterol lowering properties.
Ubiquinone(coenzyme Q) is crucial in the cellular antioxidant enzyme system. Co Q is recognized as a scavenger for hydroxyl radicals, peroxyl, ascorbyl, and chromanoxyl radicals.
Linoleic, an omega-6 fatty acid and alpha linolenic, an omega-3 fatty acid can be found in seeds, legumes, dark leafy greens, grains, nuts and legumes. The two mentioned above are precursors to two fatty acid phytochemical groups: Gamma linolenic acid, GLA(n-6) and eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA(n-6), which are crucial moderators of prostaglandin pathways. The are beneficial to you because of their anti-inflammatory, they moderate cell membrane dynamics and moderate immune response. Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA(n-3) is crucial the health of the brain. Studies show that it is effective in alleviating disorders like depression, schizophrenia, and attention deficits. EPA and DHA are found in fish while GLA, is found in seed oils (primrose, black currant and borage).
The Colors of Vegetables and Fruits
- Green leafy vegetables, kiwi, honeydew melon, avocado, broccoli, artichoke, zucchini, lettuce, celery, asparagus, edamame, okra, and peas.
- Lutein, zeaxanthin, indoles, omega-3’s and omega-6’s
White and Tan Produce.
- Turnips, bananas, garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, radishes, potatoes(white flesh), jicama, and ginger.
- Allicin and anthoxanthins.
Yellow and Orange Produce.
- Sweet potatoes, peaches, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, mangos, pumpkin, corn, pineapple, carrots, butternut squash, apricots, tangerines and yellow peppers.
- Carotenoids( beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthi) and bioflavonoids.
- Red grapes, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, pink or red grapefruit, tomatoes, beets, radishes, red peppers, rhubarb, cherries, cranberries, red cabbage, guava and red apples.
- Carotenoids(Lycopen, anthocyanin), and resveratol.
Blue and Purple Produce.
- Purple cabbage, blueberries, blackberries, black grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, prunes and figs.
- Anthocyanins, phenolics, and resveratol.
I wanted to apologize for some information that I posted on the last post. In the last post I grouped purple and red produce together. This was based on Ms. Zimmerman’s article called, “Color Your Diet: Stave off aging (2012).” I was hesitant in doing what I thought was correct but since I am not an expert on this topic I decided to go with what she had stated. I now would like to take that back and group blue and purple produce together, leaving red produce in it’s own group. It is also important to note that in general all the fruits and vegetables have a lot of the similar phytochemicals. What differentiates the color groups(produce) is the type of phytochemical that dominates in that group(produce) resulting in a different color. I have provided a picture that I took of the article just for your convenience; the pictures are at the bottom of the post.
For people who are auditory learners I have provided a video below featuring Ms. Zimmerman.
Below is a chart taken from Ms. Zimmerman’s website found here.
|Family||What They Do||Where They’re Found|
|Carotenes, limonoids, saponins||Activate body’s protective enzymes, protect eyes, act as antioxidants, modify hormones, help block cholesterol absorption, protect cellular differentiation||Green, red and yellow vegetables and fruits; grains; legumes; nuts; seeds; herbs such as ginseng, chamomile, gotu kola|
|Indol-3-carbinol, thiosulfonates, isothiocyanates||Boost cancer-fighting enzymes, block multagenesis, inhibit cholesterol synthesis, may lower blood pressure||Cruciferous vegetables; mustard family; onion & garlic family|
|Polyphenols, anthocyanidins, caechins, isoflavones, tannins||Protect heart and vascular system, protect against colon cancer, modify hormone response, prevent dental caries||Berries, grapes, red wine, green leafy vegetables, soy foods, green tea, herbs|
|Organic acids, Polysacchaarides|
|Lactones, celluloses, arabinogalactans, pectins, fructans, glucans||Block nitrosamine effects, promote growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, modulate immune system, may help prevent colon cancer||Fruit, mushrooms, yeast, herbs, spices|
|Isoprenoids, oils, fatty acids, physterols||Reduct platelet aggregation, blood clotting, inflammation, nervous system disorders; balance hormones; modify autoimmune conditions||Dark-green leafy vegetables, nuts, soy oil, wheat germ, herbs, animal foods|
Pictures from Ms. Zimmerman’s article.
Coila, Bridget. (2010, Oct 7). List of Phytochemical Foods. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/273326-list-of-phytochemical-foods/
Collins, Claudia. (2010, Sep 28). Nutrition: Fruit and Vegetable Colors. Livestrong.com. http://www.livestrong.com/article/262977-nutrition-fruit-and-vegetable-colors/
Zimmerman, Marcia. (2012, January). Color your Diet: Stave off Aging. Taste for life, 32-33.
Zimmerman, Marcia. (2001). Phytochemicals-Nutrients Whose Time Has Come. Marciazimmerman.com. http://marciazimmerman.com/phytochemicals-nutrients-whose-time-has-come/
The information here is not intended to replace standard(allopathic) medicine, which has its benefit in the medical environment in diagnosing and treating diseases. Any persistent, severe, and or unusual symptoms should be evaluated by a registered physician. The natural remedies/habits suggested here, although safer than pharmaceutical drugs, can cause unexpected results, in different people. If a condition fails to respond to the remedies/habits presented here, you should consult a physician. The author of this information, disclaims responsibility for any adverse reactions resulting directly or indirectly from the information given here.