Fruits and vegetables, as well as some nuts, grains and legumes produce a natural form of protection, which also prove to be beneficial for human health. Phytonutrients are created by a plant to help protect itself from insects and other predators as well as harmful UV rays. These compounds boost human health by neutralizing free radicals with antioxidants, boosting the immune system and lowering risk of Alzheimer’s and various types of cancers.
So what do phytonutrients look like in the plant world? Various phytonutrients provide bright colors to foods like berries, carrots, peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, grapefruit, dandelion, sweet potato and pomegranate. The darker the color, the higher the concentration of phytonutrients—think lacinato (or dinosaur) kale. Garlic and onion are also rich in phytonutrients, although they are a bit lacking in the color department. Many times, foods rich in phytonutrients are bitter tasting. According to science, the more bitter a food is, the better it is for you. Kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe and cabbage are some beneficial bitters.
From the Chinese medicine perspective, bitter foods help support Heart/Small Intestine function, which is at its peak in Summer. Although the weather may not feel like it has officially transitioned from Spring, Summer is already here according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Eating bitter-tasting foods, such as those mentioned above, will give the Heart an energetic boost.
But even more than that connection is the amazing gift that Nature provides. In its purest form, organic fruits and vegetables produce more phytonutrients than their conventional counterparts. The reasoning behind this is simple: Nature provides all that plants—and their human consumers need. Conventional produce is often sprayed with pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals to keep insects at bay. These chemicals also serve to make the plants “lazy”. Since conventional plants do not have to “work” to protect themselves, many have a lower antioxidant count than those grown organically. It’s amazing, isn’t it? Mother Nature knows just what her creations need to survive and thrive.
Read this post to delver deeper into this topic: Nature Knows: Healing Wisdom.
Join Grand Master Nan Lu at 9am! The focus of this series is: The Body Never Lies. To access the calls, visit grandmasternanlu.com and register for free. We look forward to having you in our circle.