Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Fast Facts about Phytochemicals, Herbs, and Nutrients

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Fast Facts about Phytochemicals, Herbs, and Nutrients

Article excerpt

Americans consume 130 pounds of potatoes per person annually. Several potato varieties are packed with health-promoting phytochemicals. All potatoes have carotenoids, called xanthophylls, in the flesh. Scientists have identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals and vitamins in the skins and flesh of 100 wild and commercially grown potatoes.

The total dietary phenolic content of spuds rivaled that of broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. These phenols included flavonoids, which may help diminish cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and certain cancers. Researchers also identified potatoes with high levels of vitamin C, folie acid, quercetin, and kukoamines, both of which are notable for their potential to lower blood pressure.

Of greatest interest are lutein and zeaxanthin, components of the human retina, that must be obtained from foods for proper eye health. Anthocyanins are radically different compounds, conferring red to purple coloration to skin and flesh of potato. Potent antioxidants, anthocyanins are water-soluble and have a half-life of several hours in the body. Some of the anthocyanins are strong anti-inflammatory agents.

(Source: American Journal of Potato Research, 2008; 85:298-307.)

Researchers recently reported that broccoli sprouts, a rich source of isomiocyanates (ITCs) might be able to help prevent bladder cancer. While ITCs are a known class of cancer-prevention agents, scientists discovered that broccoli sprouts have about 30 times more ITCs than mature broccoli. Other cruciferous vegetables with ITCs include cabbage, kale, and collard greens.

In a recent study, a concentrated extract of freeze-dried broccoli sprouts cut the development of bladder tumors by more than half. Scientists 'determined that the .incidence, size, and progression of bladder cancer were inhibited by the freeze-dried aqueous extract of broccoli sprouts, although the extract itself caused no observable changes in the bladder. This protective effect was associated with an increase in enzymes that help protect against oxidants and carcinogens.

It is possible that much lower ITC doses might be adequate for preventing bladder cancer. This supports epidemiologie findings that eating cruciferous vegetables is associated with, a reduced risk of bladder cancer. However, patients at risk for bladder cancer might not need to eat lots of broccoli sprouts in order to derive protective benefits.

(Source: Cancer Research, 2008; 68:1593-1600.)

Found mainly in fruits and vegetables, flavonoids have long been touted for their health benefits. More than 5,000 individual flavonoids have been identified in plants, and several hundred are found in frequently consumed foods. In recent studies, flavonoids have shown possible benefits of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Dietary intake of flavanones and anthocyanidins was associated with a decreased risk of death caused by CVD among postmenopausal women. More than 64 million Americans have some form of CVD, making it the leading cause of death in the United States.

(Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007, 85:895-909.)

Carotenoids are fat-soluble pigments that give plants their distinctive red, orange, or yellow colors. Lutein can be found in foods such as broccoli, corn, grapes, oranges, and spinach. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.