Did you know one of the easiest and tastiest ways to boost the health benefits of your meals is to start incorporating phytonutrient-rich herbs into your recipes on a regular basis?
What are Phytonutrients?
Phytonutrients are the substances that protect all plants, including herbs, and fortify them against illness, but they also offer invaluable disease protection benefits to YOU, the plant and herb eater!
The power-packed phytonutrients that keep all plants and herbs healthy and give fruits and vegetables their kaleidoscope of colors are also one of Mother Nature’s best anti-aging substances. Did you know many phytonutrients found naturally in herbs are anti-aging antioxidants that help protect the herbs from free radical attack? And that they do the same thing in humans? When the phytonutrient “fix-it” team in herbs can stay ahead of the damage by fighting free radicals and reducing oxidation within your own body then degenerative diseases and inflammatory conditions are much less likely to get started.
I use herbs not only for function and flavor but also for their health-boosting benefits. Herbs (both dried and fresh) are an incredible source of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, but they are also a super -rich source of anti-aging and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.
What are Phytonutrients Found in Herbs Good For?
Think of the phytonutrients in herbs as plant-based superstar anti-agers that help your cells repair. Phytonutrients in herbs also support your body’s natural detoxifying abilities.
What all this really means to YOU is that spiking your meals with phytonutrient-rich herbs can help ward off degenerative disease and help you stay healthy by providing your body with the raw materials it needs to repair damaged cells and detoxify. Your body’s ability to repair damaged cells and detoxify on a regular basis is a key factor in staying disease-free and healthy. Without a sufficient flood of phytonutrients your cells age more rapidly and they lose their ability to remove and detoxify waste products and toxic compounds, which increases your risk for disease and makes you feel —and look—pretty crummy.
Phytonutrients in all plant foods, including flavor-boosting herbs and spices, act in a myriad of health-promoting ways. Just a few specific examples:
- Some phytonutrients boost antioxidant defense to protect your body on a cellular level and prevent the oxidative damage that leads to disease.
- Other phytonutrients are particularly anti-inflammatory—the pungent constituents of ginger and curcumin in turmeric are good examples.
- Some phytonutrients modulate and enhance immune function, maintaining your body’s healing and detoxification system while keeping undesirable inflammation subdued.
- Phytonutrients also help to prevent damage by carcinogens, such as ultraviolet radiation, tobacco smoke, and environmental pollutants.
- Certain phytonutrients help protect against cancer.
Although there countless phytonutrients, thus making it impossible to isolate the health-promoting benefits of each and every one, scientists do know certain phyotnutrients, such as the ursolic acid found in rosemary, actually have the ability to “turn off” certain disease and age-accelerating genes. For example, the ursolic acid in rosemary in essence shuts down NF-kB, which is a highly damaging transcription factor that promotes inflammation and free radical / cell damage (Note: Transcription factors are proteins that control which genes are turned “on” or “off”).
The research supporting the tremendous therapeutic and disease-prevention benefits of phytonutrient-rich herbs is pretty extensive. In fact, if you are interested in academic nutrition research you should definitely check out this article on herbs published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine .
Add Phytonutrient-Rich Herbs to Your Diet To Boost Both Flavor AND Health
The bottom line is that if you start cooking with phytonutrient-rich herbs regularly you will not only boost flavor and nutrition but you’ll also slow aging and fight inflammation. You can read more about the benefits of phytonutrients HERE and learn out how to start cooking with flavor-boosting phytonutrient-rich herbs HERE.