The useful colour pigments are so-called phytochemicals, a generic term for substances from the plant kingdom that are not nutrients. Many PHYTOCHEMICALSS act as antioxidants and most are beneficial to health, but there are also toxic variants – for example in poison fungi.
Phytochemicals is the plant’s natural protection against the sun’s radiation and insect attacks. There are a few thousands of identified phytochemicals but they make up only a fraction and there are many left to discover.
Phytochemicals can be divided into different ways. One way is after chemical structure. The large group is called polyphenols. When we get in US polyphenols they bind to proteins in the saliva, which leaves a rough taste – where the roughness of red wine or tea are typical examples.
The complex of polyphenol and protein is not completely broken down into the stomach. It allows polyphenols to reach the blood and remain bound to protein and thus provide positive health effects such as reduced risk of cancer and diseases of the heart and vascular.
Polyphenols are considered to be antioxidants and are available in several forms, where perhaps the most famous are the flavonoids. There are plenty of them in the plant kingdom but far from all found in the foods we and products we usually eat. In addition, many polyphenols are damaged during heating (while it benefits some).
Increased intake of polyphenols prolongs life
Polyphenols are what gives fruits, berries and vegetables its, color, aroma and taste. Common sources are fruit and vegetables, tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives and nuts. Polyphenols have long been known for their recurrent effects. Now, a new Italian study shows that they greatly reduce the risk of dying prematurely.
Every third gastric cancer, every third coronary artery disease and every tenth stroke is due to the fact that we eat too little fruit and vegetables, according to the World Health Organization WHO. Now we get more reason to eat more fruit and vegetables. According to a recent Italian study published in the Journal of Nutrition, polyphenols significantly reduce the risk of dying prematurely – by counteracting numerous, often chronic, pathological conditions.