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What are Phytonutrients?

Written by Progressive Nutritional

Phytonutrients (also called phytochemicals) are nutrients found in plants that do not fall into the vitamin or mineral categories. Many phytonutrients act as antioxidants in the body, eliminating damaging free radicals. They can be found in high levels in foods such as green tea, blueberries, bilberry, and red wine. Foods rich in phytonutrients, such as green foods, provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre.


Sea vegetables such as spirulina, chlorella, kelp, and other Blue-Green algae are another important source of phytonutrients often overlooked in most modern diets. This subset of green foods has important health benefits, including improving the ability of the body to fight infections, eliminating toxins from the body, and reducing the symptoms of many health conditions.


Green foods and phytonutrients provide several health benefits for your body. From building the immune system to balancing your pH, getting proper amounts of these foods can drastically improve your health.

Some key phytonutrients found in foods include:

  • Carotenoids: This group contains substances such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. Alpha- and beta- carotene are converted into Vitamin A, an essential vitamin for eye health. Lutein has also been shown to improve eye health, preventing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Flavonoids: These phytonutrients act in the body to reduce inflammation.
  • Ellagic acid: Found in berries and other foods, these phenols protect the body's cells from oxidative stress.
  • Resveratrol: This substance is found in grapes and wine and has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The measure of acid - alkaline balance in foods is measured with the Potential Renal Acid Load, or PRAL. Some foods that have been shown to have the highest alkaline PRAL values are:

  • barley greens
  • alfalfa
  • spinach
  • sea vegetables
  • kale

All important green foods! A diet rich in these foods can help reverse the damaging effects of acidic foods, neutralizing the pH balance within the body.

In addition to phytonutrient benefits of green foods, it has been shown that green foods and others rich in these chemicals can help improve the pH balance in the body. A poor diet can lead to a body that is too acidic. This can have a number of negative consequences for your health, increasing your risk for:

  • Reduced muscle growth
  • Lower human growth hormone production
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Osteoporosis
  • Decreased immune function

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps provide the essential nutrition your body needs. Eating nutrient-dense foods, such as green foods, can help you reach your goal.

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