Supplements Made Simple - Phytochemicals

What are they - and does a runner need them?


Posted: 5 June 2000
by Liz Applegate

This is adapted from the book, Eat Smart, Play Hard, by RW USA Nutrition Editor Liz Applegate.

Technically, phytochemicals aren’t considered nutrients, but these little disease-fighting dynamos are so essential for optimum health that I didn’t want to leave them off the list. Found in fruits, vegetables, and grains, there are about 500 different phytochemicals that help protect you against cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even wrinkles. Researchers are busily isolating these substances – with complicated names such as lycopene and genistein – for companies to sell in pill form.

My recommendation: The best way to fill up on phytochemicals is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. No one phytochemical acts as the fountain of youth, and no one food – and especially no one supplement – contains all the phytochemicals. Don’t get into a rut of always eating broccoli as your vegetable and an apple as your fruit. Try a new fruit or vegetable each week for variety and better health.


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