Antioxidants vs. Phytochemicals – What’s the Difference?

FAIR WARNING…THIS ONE IS MORE ADVANCE LEARNING!  I FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND STILL THE SAME.

Often you may hear a dietitian, commercial, or package label mention that a certain food is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. We all know they are good things, but what exactly are they? What is the difference between the two?

Antioxidants and phytochemicals are naturally occurring families of healthful substances. Phyto means plants, and that brings us to the first difference between the 2 groups. Phytochemicals are present only in plant foods, whereas antioxidants may be derived from animal sources as well. Antioxidants may be vitamins (vitamins C, E), minerals (selenium), cartenoids (lycopene) or other compounds.

They play a crucial rule in the body metabolism, protecting cells from unstable and potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals. Phytochemicals have antioxidant capabilities, but some have additional powers as well. Examples include the ability to produce enzymes that limit the ability of carcinogens to damage a cell’s DNA, fighting inflammation, and limiting the development of blood vessels that house tumors.

Scientists are constantly discovering new properties of phytochemicals and antioxidants, their interaction with the body, and more recently, with the gut microbiome. Although the basic mechanisms are understood in lab tests, much is yet to learn when it comes to interactions between multiple chemical groups and the human body.

The recommendation for individuals is to consume a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains; each has an assortment of the beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants needs to help maintain a healthy body.

Bottom line is to eat REAL food.  Remember your food should grow on a plant, bush or tree or it should eat a plant, bush or tree.  If it made in a “plant” like a factory, you should stay away from it as much a possible.  90% of your diet should consist of real food!!!

Happy Eating

Wendy

Fooducate

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