We all grew up being told to eat our vegetables (and fruits). We all know that vegetables and fruits are good for us – especially when they’re organic. But why exactly are veggies and fruits so healthy?
Sure, part of it is the macronutrients – the protein, carbohydrates and fat – contained in fruits and veggies, and the fact that their carbohydrates give our bodies energy at a low caloric cost.
Another part of it is the micronutrients – smaller than macronutrients, micronutrients are the essential vitamins and minerals that we must get from our diets because our bodies can’t make them. Probably the most familiar is vitamin C, which is critical for a healthy immune system and wound healing – without it we’re at risk for developing Scurvy.
But a very large part of the reason why fruits and vegetables are so good for us is due to plant nutrients called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients literally mean “plant nutrients” and are responsible for the colours, tastes and textures found in fruits and veggies. As of 2016, scientists have found nearly 25,000 different types of phytonutrients, and that number is growing.
While we’ll never be able to name all of the phytonutrients out there, we can understand the benefits of the main classes of phytonutrients. There’s beta carotene, which gives carrots, sweet potatoes and squashes their bright orange colour, and chlorophyll, which gives dark leafy greens their green colour. And then there’s the polyphenols, which is the largest class of phytonutrients, and encompasses other, smaller groups, like flavonoids and curcuminoids.
The sum is greater than the parts
While there’s still a lot to be understood about phytonutrients, one thing is clear: plant nutrients work together in synergy because no one food can provide complete antioxidant protection on its own.
Around a decade ago, researchers at Cornell University studied the effect of one single phytonutrient derived from apples on breast cancer cells. While this isolated chemical did provide some benefit, it was far more effective when combined with a whole apple extract that contained a natural spectrum of phytonutrients.
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• 100% Vegan
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Superfood Acai Bowl
By Choosing Chia | Serves: 1 large smoothie
• 1 banana, frozen
• 1 cup blueberries, frozen
• ¼ avocado
• ½ cup almond milk
• 1 tsp acai berry powder or frozen acai
• 1 tsp chia seeds
• 1 scoop greens+O acai mango
• fresh fruits
• nuts & seeds
1. Place your frozen banana, frozen blueberries, avocado, and almond milk in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides to make sure everything blends together well.
2. Next add your acai berry, chia seeds, and greens+O and blend until combined.
3. Pour your smoothie into a bowl and top with your favourite fresh fruits, granola, nuts & seeds.