16 Phytonutrient Superstars

From allicin to zeaxanthin, here are some of the key phytonutrients you need.

phytonutrient rich foods

There are tens of thousands of phytonutrients within an as-yet-undetermined number of classes and subclasses. Here is a tour of some of the most prominent ones — and a glimpse at how they support our well-being.

1. Allicin

  • Found in: Garlic, onions, jicama
  • Great for: Eliminating toxins from the body

2. Capsaicin

  • Found in: Cayenne peppers, red peppers
  • Great for: Preventing toxic molecules from invading cells; reducing inflammation

3. Carotenoids

  • Found in: Carrots, tomatoes, cantaloupe, arugula, spinach, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkin, red peppers
  • Great for: Removing damaging free radicals from the cells, slowing macular degeneration, preventing cataracts, repairing DNA and blocking carcinogens from entering cells

4. Catechins

  • Found in: Green and black teas
  • Great for: Inhibiting the activation of carcinogens

5. Ellagic Acid

  • Found in: Grapes, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, walnuts
  • Great for: Preventing cancer

6. Genistein

7. Indoles and Isothiscyanates

  • Found in: Collard greens, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage
  • Great for: Blocking carcinogens and interfering with the action of a precancerous form of estrogen

8. Isoflavones

  • Found in: Kudzu, soybeans, peas, peanuts, legumes
  • Great for: Modulating estrogen levels; preventing breast, uterine and prostate cancers; and reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis

9. Lignans

  • Found in: Seeds and grains, especially flaxseed
  • Great for: Inhibiting excessive estrogen action, and possibly reducing breast, colon and ovarian cancer

10. Limonoids

  • Found in: Citrus fruit peels
  • Great for: Clearing congestive mucus from the lungs, detoxifying enzymes in the liver, and supporting detoxification of hormones and other substances that cause cellular decay

11. Lycopene

  • Found in: Tomatoes
  • Great for: Fighting heart disease and prostate cancer, plus reducing the risk of stomach, lung and prostate cancers

12. Phenols

  • Found in: Black and red berries, celery, cabbage, grapes, eggplant, peaches, nectarines
  • Great for: Preventing cancer, blocking specific enzymes that cause autoimmune diseases, protecting against heart attacks and strokes, preventing platelets in the blood from clumping, reversing nerve-cell aging, and destroying hepatoxins, which damage the liver

13. Phytosterols

  • Found in: Pumpkin, rice, soybeans, yams, all green and yellow vegetables
  • Great for: Blocking “bad” cholesterol uptake, reducing inflammation and blocking the growth of tumors

14. Polyphenols

15. Saponins

  • Found in: Alfalfa, legumes
  • Great for: Lowering cholesterol and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA

16. Zeaxanthin


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