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Phytochemicals and the foods you need to eat to get them.

Phytochemicals are the gifts from nature, which are responsible for the colour, taste and aroma of plant based foods. As well as these pleasant attributes, they protect us from environmental and ingested carcinogens and have anticancer properties. It is not a surprise then that the World Cancer Research Fund and other academic bodies, report that individuals eating phytochemical-rich foods have a significantly lower risk of cancer or relapse after treatments.

 There are four major groups of phytochemicals:

  •  The polyphenols, subcategorized as the flavonoids, phenolic acids and other non-flavonoid polyphenols.
  •  The terpenoids subcategorized as the carotenoids and non-carotenoid terpenoids
  • The thiols, glucosinolates, allylic sulfides and non-sulphur containing indoles
  •  A miscellaneous category with some properties within these 3 groups e.g. the betaines, chlorophylls and capsaicin.


The Polyphenols


 Flavonols: quercetin, kaempferol – Onions, kale, leeks, broccoli, buckwheat, red grapes, tea, apples

Flavones: apigenin, luteolin – Celery, herbs, parsley, chamomile, rooibos tea, capsicum, pepper

Isoflavones: genistein, daidzein, glycitein – Soya, beans, chick peas, alfalfa, peanuts

Flavanones: naringenin, hesperitin – Citrus fruit

Anthocyanidins – Red grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, tea

Flavan-3-ols: (tannins) ;catechins, epicatechin, epigallocatechingallate – Tea, chocolate, grapes

Flavanolols: silymarin, silibinin, aromadedrin – Milk thistle, red onions

Dihydrochalcones: phloridzin,aspalathin – Apples, rooibos tea


Phenolic acids

 Hydrobenzoic acids; gallic acid, ellagic acid, vanillic acid – Rhubarb, grape seed, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, vanilla, tea

Hydroxycinnamic acids; ferulic acid, P-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, sinapic acid – Wheat bran, cinnamon, coffee, kiwi fruit, plums, blueberries


Other non-flavonoid polyphenols

 Other tannins Cereals, fruits berries, beans, nuts, wine cocoa

Curcuminoids Curcumin (Turmeric)

Stilbenes;cinnamic acid, resveratrol grapes, wine,blueberries, peanuts, raspberries

Lignans; secoisolariciresinol,enterolactone,sesamin grains, flaxseed, sesame seeds



 Carotenoid terpenoids:

 Alpha, beta and gamma carotene: Sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, kale

Lutein: Corn, eggs, kale, spinach, red pepper, pumpkin, oranges, rhubarb, plum, mango, papaya

Zeaxanthin:  Corn, eggs, kale, spinach, red pepper, pumpkin, oranges

Lycopene: Tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya

Astaxanthin  Salmon, shrimp, krill, crab


Non-carotenoid terpenoids:

 Saponins: Chickpeas, soya beans

Limonene: The rind of citrus fruits

Perillyl Alcohol: Cherries, caraway seeds, mint

Ursolic acid: Apples, cranberries, prunes, peppermint, oregano, thyme

Ginkgolides: Bilobalide Ginkgo Ginkgo biloba



 Glucosinolates; isothiocyanates and dithiolthiones – Cruciferous veg such as broccoli, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and radish

Allylic sulfides; allicin and S-allyl cysteine – Garlic, leeks, onions

Indoles, Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) –  Broccoli, brussel sprouts


Other phytochemicals:

Betaines: Beetroot

Chlorophylls: Green leafy vegetables

Capsaicin: Chilli

Peperine: Black pepper


Apart from shellfish and eggs all of these foods are those you need to be consuming each day! I would recommend juicing as a sure fire way of getting taking them on board.

Posted in General.

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