by Chef Tina Martini
You’re probably wondering if I forgot to use spell check. Did I really mean to say fight? Well actually we’re going to talk about both of these words.
The media talks about ‘superfoods’ every day. Kale and blueberries seem to be at the top of the superfoods list. What exactly is a superfood?
It’s a food with phyte, or phytochemicals. Chemicals can’t be good for us, or can they? Let’s break down the word. Phyto is Latin for plant, and chemical is the natural medicine in the plant. That’s where the plants get their disease-fighting ability. So the answer is yes, chemicals can be good for us.
You may also see the term ‘phytonutrient’ in the media. Both are the same word, basically. We all know we get nutrients from the foods we eat every day. Phytonutrients or phytochemicals are in every plant food—or fruit and vegetable—we eat.
Let’s look at some of the foods we’re hearing about in the news. Kale is everywhere now, and known as the “king of superfoods.” Ready for some more strange words? Kale is high in three very powerful phytochemicals: lutein, zeaxanthin, and isothiocyanates. Wow! That’s a mouthful. The first two protect our eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. The third one boosts the natural cancer-fighting enzymes in our body. All that in yummy kale chips? Count me in! Now that’s a food with serious fight/phyte!
What about blueberries? Blueberries have a lot of different types of phytochemicals. Some of these, called anthocyanins, are pigments that give blueberries their beautiful purple color. The phytochemicals in blueberries build strong blood vessels. They also protect our eyes as well as our heart. And when we exercise really hard, the phytochemicals in blueberries help repair our damaged muscle tissues.
I’m sure you can see that these superfoods are super-charged with antioxidants. So here we are back to a word that everyone has heard. That’s all phytochemicals are—super-charged antioxidants that keep us from getting sick, protect our bodies, and help us heal when we get injured or sick.
Tell me…how much “phyte” is in your refrigerator right now? Let us know in the comments!
|by Chef Tina Martini, “The Medicine Chef” @MedicineChef | Facebook
Chef Martini is an experienced, well-versed television personality with a successful and proven track record. She holds a doctorate from Bastyr University in Naturopathy and a Nutrition degree from San Diego State University. She mixes cooking with nutrition, fitness and wellness!