We all know the words “carbs,” fats” and “protein” …stuff that supplies us with the calories we need for energy. Their proper name in sciencedom is “macronutrients,” and because we keep tabs on them practically every day, we pretty much talk about them all the time! But what we don’t hear about enough is micronutrients…and those babies are our real health superstars! Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals and hundreds of plant compounds called phytochemicals (or phytonutrients), and believe us when we say they’re our key to being WHealthy.
Let’s learn a little, shall we?
Vitamins, Minerals, and Phytochemicals…OH MY!
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because when they all play nice with each other they allow hundreds of functions to take place in our bods, like…
If they’re so flippin’ important, why are they called micronutrients? Our body needs only teensy amounts of them…yet, getting the right amount is key. Consuming too few virtually guarantees disease while getting enough provides beaucoup benefits.
The term phytochemicals is a broad name for a wide variety of compounds that plants produce to protect themselves. They help guard the tender buds and sprouts of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains and other plants from predators, the elements and pollution…and then those protective compounds get passed along to us when we eat them.
Now: Even though phytochemicals are non-essential nutrients (meaning we don’t need them to actually live) they may help us live a little longer. And since everybody likes the sound of that, it’s important to try to add these to our diets wherever possible. How can they help us?
There are more than 1,000 known phytochemicals and probably even more to be discovered! So when reading your food labels or looking up all the good stuff in different ingredients, words like “antioxidants,” “flavonoids,” “phytonutrients,” “flavones,” “isoflavones,” “catechins,” “anthocyanidins,” “isothiocyanates,” “carotenoids,” and “polyphenols” mean what you’re eating is good for you.