What are plant nutrients and why are they important?
November 8, 2022
The health benefits of getting the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables are undeniable, as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients our bodies need to support optimal health.
That’s why experts recommend consuming 5 to 9 servings each day. But did you know the color of those fruits and vegetables matters, too? Plant-based foods contain valuable nutrients that are responsible for all their vibrant colors. Each color group offers its own unique blend of nutrients.
Plant nutrients, or phytonutrients, are naturally occurring compounds found in the plants we eat. They play many roles in plants, but in general they function as a defense mechanism to help plants survive and reproduce.
For humans, plant nutrients act as antioxidants, and antioxidants help your body fight excess free radicals – the cell-damaging substances generated by internal systems in our bodies and caused by many of life’s everyday activities: poor diet, lack of sleep, sun and pollution.
The next time you walk down a produce aisle, take a close look at all the different colors you see. Each vibrant plant color indicates the type of plant nutrients it contains, each offering a range health benefits. Purple is associated with brain health, orange with eye health, green with cellular health, red with heart health and white with bone and joint health.
In order to get a variety of benefits for your whole body, it’s important to eat the right amount of fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow.
If you’re getting the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables from various color groups, you’re making great progress in getting plenty of plant nutrients. Unfortunately, most people don’t come near the daily recommendation.
In general, you should consume at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to the World Health Organization. Take a mental tally of your own fruit and vegetable intake over the last few days to see if you achieved that or fell short. If you fell short, you’re not alone! Approximately 8 out of 10 people fail to meet that minimum.
To boost your intake, try adding peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or onions to your breakfast eggs for a delicious omelet or scramble. Or add produce to your snack options by grabbing an apple, peach, banana, or orange to enjoy during the day. You might also consider stirring extra veggies into your soups, stews and stir-fry dishes or choosing a day once a week to replace meat with all plant foods in your main meals.
Smoothies are another great way to increase your intake of plant nutrients. Want to focus on a particular plant nutrient? Some fruits and vegetables have more than others. For instance:
While it’s always best to get your vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients from whole foods, when that’s not possible you can fill nutrient gaps with a supplement.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how good your intentions, you will still fail to consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Maybe you’ve never developed the taste for them, or you are too busy to plan and prepare balanced meals.
Regardless of the reason, you can help fill gaps in your plant nutrient intake by taking a daily supplement. Nutrilite™ Concentrated Fruits and Vegetables, for example, provides the phytonutrient equivalent of more than five servings of fruits and vegetables, which is the amount of fruits and vegetables health authorities recommend people consume daily.
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