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Phytochemical Boosters

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  • Phytochemical Boosters

    Here are six plants that add colour, flavour, and taste to your food. Most important of all, they boost your health and immunity system. “Phyto” means a plant and most phytochemicals have tongue-twisting fancy names. A small intake of these, in a regular basis, goes a long way to keep the body healthy and the immunity system vigorous.

    Garlic is the most ancient medicinal plant known to man. It is also the most wisely acclaimed. It is credited with ability to cure cancer and heart diseases. It is antibiotic and is a food with more than just medical benefits.

    The Alliums family which includes Garlic, onion and leeks contain a chemical called Allicin which curbs the cancer. Garlic lowers the cholesterol level by as much as 12%. Not all forms of garlic are equally effective. The most effective form is the raw garlic, chopped or crushed. One pearl a day is adequate.

    Spinach is dark green in colour and contains “lutien” and “Zeaxanthin” which protect our eyes as we age. People who are over 55 years and eat 5 or 6 servings of spinach a week are only one-eighth likely to suffer from muscular degeneration (leading to blindness), as those who ate one serving or none per month. Five to six cups of spinach a week is adequate.

    Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower lower the risk of lung, stomach and the other cancers. The phytochemicals involved are “Glucosinolates”. One of them is Indole-3-carbinol. This protects against breast cancer. Several half-a-cup servings a day are adequate.

    Citrus fruits like orange, lemon, limes, and grape fruits provide vitamin C, folate and fiber, all of which reduce the risk of cancer. “Limonene” found in the pulp and the peeling of these fruits has helped the laboratory animals to fight tumors. Half a cup or more helps to keep good health.

    Grapes and their juices lower the risk of heart diseases. Red wine contains “flavonoids” and grape skin contains “phenolics”. Both these phytochemicals are beneficial. Non-drinkers can get the same protection by drinking purple grape juice or by eating red and black grapes. Two to four servings a day and wine in moderation help.

    Tomato has a carotenoid called “lycopene” which may prevent prostrate cancer. In an extensive study involving tens of thousands of men, it was found that, men who ate 10 or more servings of tomato based food per week had only half the risk of those who had 2 or less servings per week. Ketchup is rich in Lycopene. And helps fight lung and stomach cancer. One and a half cup of tomato sauce a week or 5 cups of tomatoes slices are adequate.

    Visalakshi Ramani