Phytochemicals Make Plant's Diet Stand Out

in Plant

A group of chemicals found in plants make plant diets to be highly recommended for preventing diseases and also help the body in maintaining a healthy living. They are called phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals, what are they?
These are plant sterols, flavonoids, and sulfur containing compounds. They are micronutrients found in vegetables and fruits and they are very important in checkmating arteriosclerosis which occurs when there is a build up of fatty deposits on the walls of the artery. There are still some other compounds among this class though some of them are not clearly defined and their modes of action are not yet clearly understood.
These plant phytochemicals would form the subject of our discussions here.

a) Plant sterols.
Plants have sterols which differ from normal cholesterol by the possession of ethyl and methyl groups or unsaturation in their side chain. Sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol are the main sterols in this class and can be found in a good amount in the western diets, almost at the level of cholesterol content. It has been discovered since around the 1950's that the addition of sitosterol to the diet of chickens fed with cholesterol led to reduction in their levels of cholesterol as well as the risk of developing arteriosclerosis in their rabbit counterparts. Studies between 1950 and 1960 revealed that sitosterol and a mixture of soy sterols reduced cholesterol level by about 10 percent and it has been found necessary to reinvestigate this property with newer technologies.

b) Flavonoids
Flavonoids are compounds found in vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits with varied chemical structures. The main categories of flavonoids are flavones, catechins, flavonones and anthocyanins. They are mainly found in tea, onions, soy and wine. In onion, the main flavonoid is known as quercetin glucoside while in tea it is quercetin rutinoside. Flavonoids are linked to fighting arteriosclerosis because of their antioxidant properties which are found to inhibit the oxidation of human LDL.

c) Plant sulfur compounds
The allium family which are the natural sulfur compounds in plants are mainly found in garlic, onions and leeks. As many as up to nine researches carried out in 2000 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed high intake of garlic to be associated with decreased risks of multiple cancers.

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John Chukwukelu has 1 articles online

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Phytochemicals Make Plant's Diet Stand Out

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This article was published on 2010/04/02