Phytonutrients… Polyphenols… Carotenoids… Omega-3 Fatty Acids…
You may not be able to pronounce them all (we even struggle with some of them from time to time) but you’re probably seeing these four words in the news a lot. In fact, it’s hard to pick up any recent article on nutrition science and not see them.
SuperFoodsRx turned these nutrients into superstars, and for good reason — they really matter to your health and well-being.
Our best-selling book, SuperFoodsRx, Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, is filled with comprehensive information about these crucial micronutrients, but here’s a quick cheat-sheet to help you remember what each does for you:
Phytonutrient: Naturally occurring, non-vitamin, non-mineral components of food that have significant health benefits. Three important types of beneficial phytonutrients are polyphenols, carotenoids, and phytoestrogens.
Polyphenols: Act as antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and are anti-allergenic. Some foods that contain polyphenols are tea, nuts, and berries.
Carotenoids: Are the pigments found in red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, apricots, mangos, and sweet potatoes. These nutrients function as antioxidants, which protect us from cancer and help defy the effects of aging.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Along with omega-6 fatty acids, these fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). Though we can synthesize other nutritionally necessary fats in our diet, we lack the ability to produce these EFAs.
Early humans are estimated to have had a highly beneficial ratio of one omega-6 to one omega-3 in their diet but our typical modern diet has an unhealthful ratio of 10 to1! EFAs are a critical component of healthy cell membranes and are vital for proper development of our eyes, a healthy cardiovascular system, and a properly functioning immune system.