GRAND RAPIDS, MICH., April 22, 2010 – Topping that bowl of cereal with raspberries instead of strawberries, or sautéing kale instead of spinach for dinner can boost phytonutrient intake, which may help decrease risk for certain chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
A study, supported by the Nutrilite Health Institute and presented at the Experimental Biology Meeting, April 25, in Anaheim, California, found that despite the availability of a wide range of foods that contain phytonutrients, many Americans are getting phytonutrients from a relatively small number of specific foods, which are not necessarily the most concentrated sources. Top food contributors for several key phytonutrient families in the diet include oranges, orange juice, carrots, grapes, garlic, tomatoes, strawberries, prepared mustard, tea and various soy products, according to the study.
“Americans could improve their phytonutrient intake by choosing to eat more concentrated sources of phytonutrients as well as a wider variety,” said Keith Randolph, Ph.D., Technology Strategist for Nutrilite. “For example, grapes are the top contributor of the phytonutrient family of anthocyanidins in most Americans’ diets, but blueberries actually contain higher amounts of this phytonutrient. Research suggests anthocyanidins support heart health,” Randolph added.
Phytonutrients are compounds that naturally occur in plants and provide a range of potential health benefits from promoting eye, bone and heart health to supporting immune and brain function. It’s widely believed that the health benefits that phytonutrients may offer come from the pigments in fruits and vegetables that give these foods their vibrant reds, yellows, greens and other rich colors. Certain fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of these compounds, making them more concentrated and potentially more effective sources of phytonutrients.