These naturally occurring chemical compounds also known as “phytochemicals” are nature’s natural defense. These compounds found in vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grain products help to protect their host from bugs, fungi, germs and other threats. They have also been found to be very beneficial to the human body because they help your body to combat diseases and keep things running smoothly. Unlike vitamins and minerals however, they are not essential to human survival. There are more than 25,000 phytonutrients found in plants that we know of, a handful of which directly cause our fruits and vegetables to appear as one color or another. For example, there are 600+ forms of carotenoids, which are the phytonutrients that cause a carrot to appear orange, meanwhile lycopene gives watermelons their pink coloring. Just as each one may serve a particular purpose within the plant, each one also provides a separate health benefit. Flavonols found in apples for instance can help reduce people’s risk of asthma, coronary heart disease, and certain types of cancer while resveratrol is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is found in grapes and grape derivatives (yes, even red wine).

Phytonutrients are just one more reason to eat healthy and grow at home, not that you needed one!  Have a great weekend and happy gardening!

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