Tag: phytonutrients

What in the World are Phytonutrients?

There’s being interest in living a healthy lifestyle, and then there’s being a real nutritional nut. One of the biggest hurdles to reaching true nutritional mastery is understanding all the terms being tossed around. One term you might hear thrown around a lot is “phytonutrients”. This is actually a very important term for those interested in green drinks and low sugar juice cleanse – we’ll explain why here.

What Are Phytonutrients?

Those of you who understand a little bit of Latin probably recognize the term “Phyto” as referring to plant matter. This is a pretty good clue for what phytonutrients are. Also known as phytochemicals, there is not a single “phytonutrient”. Rather, they refer to a variety of important nutrients that you will tend to find within plant matter, from fruits to vegetables. Common kinds of phytonutrients include lutein, flavonoids, coumarins, indoles, isoflavones, lignans, organosulfures, and plant sterols.

Okay, so that’s a lot of new terms to look up, we get it. There won’t be a quiz on this, we promise! Long story short, phytonutrients are chemicals that plants create to keep themselves healthy. What’s very cool, is that phytonutrients can be used to keep humans healthy as well!

Why Phytonutrients Matter

Going through every benefit of phytonutrients would take forever. There are some major benefits they provide that have caught the attention of many nutritionists. These include some of the following:

Antioxidants: Many phytonutrients are antioxidants – this means that they can help prevent damage to your cells, which can then cut down the risk of cancers, heart diseases, and aging-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Immune System Boosting: Many phytonutrients are used to help protect plants against infections and diseases. It’s appropriate then that a lot of them can help boost the human immune system as well, giving you better resistance to harmful bacteria and viruses.

Eye Health: If you are getting your phytonutrients from leafy greens in a green drink, you can also get the benefit of improved eye health, and resistance to degenerative eye diseases.

Getting Your Phytonutrients

Many of you are probably very ready to start enjoying phytonutrients right away. Before you start messing around with celery juice (and celery juice side effects) it’s important to understand that not all fruits and vegetables are high in phytochemicals. By the same token, not all phytochemicals are in all of those fruits and vegetables.

A lot of the brightest colored fruits, such as tomatoes, avocados, and blueberries, tend to be high in phytochemicals. One of the best ways to get phytochemicals is through dark and leafy greens, such as spinach and kale.

One of the best ways to get all those phytochemicals is from your dark leafy greens in the form of green drinks. This lets you pack as many phytochemicals as possible into a single easily digestible green drink. However, not all green drinks are made equal – you can’t get a lot of phytochemicals just from celery juice.

Chef V’s Green Drink is full of leafy green vegetables like black kale, green kale, and chard. This makes it not only a great part of a low sugar juice cleanse for weight loss, but also a great way to help repair your cells and boost your immune system.

Best of all, getting as much green drink as you want, when you want, has never been easier thanks to Chef V’s Green Drink Plans. Make sure to check it out and start building your personalized plan today.

Medicinal Herbs: Fantastic Fungus

You might think of mushrooms as something to put on pizza, but they are much more.  These days they  are showing up in herbal energy drinks, coffee recipes, and supplements. Mushrooms are full of antioxidants and are widely used in Chinese medicine.

There’s a good reason why mushrooms are one of the biggest trends in wellness. They deserve to wear capes for they are truly superfood heroes! Mushrooms are nutrition powerhouses, loaded with vitamins, minerals and lots of phytonutrients that you won’t see listed on nutrition labels.

If you’re disgusted just by the thought of eating mushrooms, I don’t blame you. I used to be revolted by the squishy little buggers. In high school, whenever my friends and I ordered pizza, there was always that one person who was adamant about including ‘shrooms on the pie.

But edible mushrooms have come a long way. No longer are they a tasteless, chewy and squirmy substance drowned in water in a can, reserved for pizza and, well, I can’t think of any other foods I used to see with mushrooms back in the day.

These days, practically every entree I make, especially stir-frys, includes mushrooms. Personally, I don’t drink coffee, but I do know plenty of people who mix mushroom powder into their morning cup. Lately, I started experimenting by adding mushroom powder into herbal tea.

Benefits of Mushrooms

So after years of being revolted by mushrooms, why did I hop on the ‘shroom bandwagon? Why am I taking the time to slice the blooming fruit of fungus (that’s what edible mushrooms are) and tossing it in not only stir-frys but also soups and stews and other dishes? And why has mushroom powder become a thing?

First, let me say that if you really detest the texture and taste of mushrooms, you may want to still consider buying mushroom powder. They have a mostly neutral taste. If anything, they have a subtle nutty, Earthy flavor profile. At least the couple different brands that I’ve tried.

The reason I want you to consider incorporating more ‘shrooms into your diet is that they are one of the best foods on Earth for supporting the immune system.

And lord knows we all need that these days.

Why are ‘shrooms beneficial for immunity? Let’s start with vitamin D. Certain species of mushrooms are very rich in vitamin D, which is crucial for maintaining a balanced immune system.

That means that if you do become infected by a pathogen, your immune system won’t go out of control and attack your body. Obviously, there’s no guarantee that eating mushrooms or taking a vitamin D supplement offers 100% protection, but I’m putting my money on my health by making sure I’m getting enough vitamin D.

Best Mushroom For Vitamin D

According to the Mushroom Council, the maitake (“My Tock E”) species of mushrooms contains over 230% of the daily value of vitamin D, which is very difficult to obtain from the diet alone. That’s because there are relatively few natural foods that are rich in vitamin D.

As a side note, I wouldn’t rely on mushrooms alone for obtaining vitamin D. The reason is because mushrooms are rich in vitamin D2, but not so much in vitamin D3. D3 is the more “active” form of vitamin D that our bodies use to produce hormones and perform lots of other important functions. Still, your health will benefit from consuming rich sources of vitamin D2.

below, Maitake mushroom

Mushrooms: A Good Sugar?

The all-star phytonutrients in mushrooms is beta-glucans, which is actually a sugar. Who says sugar is bad for you? Well, too much added sugars in the diet contributes to disease. But certain natural sugars that are trapped in the cell walls of plants can help us stay healthy.

Beta-glucans support the immune system by activating specialized immune cells that target potentially-harmful pathogens for destruction and clean-up the crime scene after they’ve been assassinated.

shitake mushrooms

above, dried shitake mushrooms

Eat These ‘Shrooms For Health

Another fabulous fungus that supports the immune system, and one that’s found in many supermarkets is crimini. Zinc might be the trace mineral that gets all the immunity-seeking attention. But selenium is arguably just as important. That’s because selenium has been proven to prevent viral replication. Brazil nuts are probably the best plant-based source of selenium. But crimini mushrooms are an excellent source as well. One serving contains about a third of the daily recommended value.

To support your bones, the Mushroom Council recommends shiitake (“Shee-Tock-E”), because it’s rich in copper, a trace mineral few of us ever think about, especially for bone health. But there’s more to healthy bones than calcium.

There are so many varieties of mushrooms. You really can’t go wrong with whatever variety you go with. Toss any variety available at your local health food store into stir-frys, soups, and yes, even on top of a healthy pizza (with cauliflower crust).

If you have the funds for it, buy mushroom powder, which contains other varieties that you wouldn’t be able to get at your local supermarket. I’m talking about reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane, etc.

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