Step into spring with powerful phytonutrients

Why eating a rainbow is "essential for life"!

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(Photo: iStock)

We all know fruit and veggies are really good for us and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But have you heard of phytonutrients?

If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Scientists are only just beginning to unlock the full therapeutic potential of these powerful plant compounds.

Pronounced fight-o-nutrient, it literally means plant nutrient. These are the natural compounds that give plant foods their vibrant colours, smells and tastes. And, because our bodies can’t make them themselves, phytonutrients may even be considered “essential for life”!

There are more than 5000 specific phytonutrients and the list below is just the start:

  • Blueberries have the phytonutrient anthocyanin that may help with memory.
  • Tomatoes are rich in lycopene. This not only gives tomatoes their red colour, but research shows it may help fight heart disease and prostate cancer.
  • Ginger has gingerol that has been linked to helping hypertension.
  • Oranges have hesperidin that has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
  • Apples contain quercetin that may help with inflammation.

These natural disease-fighting nutrients are part of the reason that eating a plant-based diet is so healthy and has been linked to providing more energy, a better complexion, being slimmer and healthier.

To bump up the phytonutrients in your diet, eat the rainbow! We’re talking every day, in-season fruit and veg here—there’s no need for exotic “super foods” that will break the budget.

Next time you’re at the shops, why not pop some of these phytonutrient-rich fruit and veg into your trolley?

Red, orange and yellow veggies. Think pumpkin, capsicum, carrot and sweet potatoes; perfect for roast veggie salads and making warming soups. Or, go for fruits like tomatoes, citrus, berries and melons—great for snacking on or sprinkling over your favourite breakfast cereal.

White veggies. Easy to overlook but pretty essential for flavour, white veggies like garlic, onion and leek are great for bumping up the phytonutrients in pretty much any meal. 

Dark green leafy veggies. Look for spinach, kale, bok choy or broccoli. Add them to a stir fry for a vibrant and flavour-packed dinner, or try cos lettuce for a delicious and crunchy salad.

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