Phytonutrients: The Nutrition of Color
by Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cience is amazing, but it has its limits. We have been able to identify all the molecules in certain foods. We understand the bonds that keep the individual molecules together. And yet, we cannot build an apple fit for consumption (yet.) I am willing to accept that nature knows best most of the time.
Consume a whole, plant food and you not only reap the benefits of molecules essential to life, namely the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals.) You also are the beneficiary of that plant’s lifelong battle to protect itself. To protect themselves against oxidative damage and invaders like diseases and pests, plants generate molecules called phytonutrients (or phytochemicals to be precise.) Consume the plant and the protective effects are transferred to you.
Each phytonutrient has its own color, so they are fairly easy to identify. Consume a rainbow of colors and you will be taking in a variety of phytonutrients, each with its own unique health benefit. Over 4,000 phytonutrients and their health benefits have been identified – we will highlight a few by their colors here:
While phytonutrients are not essential for life, they are powerful disease fighters. Consume plenty of whole, plant-based foods, both cooked and raw, with a variety of colors and you will give your body nature’s best defenses.
Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN received her Master of Science degree in Nutrition Education from Columbia University and completed her supervised clinical practice at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. At Living Plate, she partners with other registered dietitians as well as culinary professionals to ensure individuals can meet their health goals. They facilitate evidence-based programming focused on changing nutrition-related health behaviors such as selecting, preparing, and cooking health-promoting foods.
You can contact Jeanne by email at [email protected] or by phone at 908-234-1160.