I am much the same as Graham Davies , who posted a comment to my last blog entry (thanks Graham!). In part he said:
“I am sceptical about alternative and herbal remedies, although I recognise the fact that some naturally occurring chemicals are believed to have a positive effect. For that reason, I drink green tea and red wine, and I eat quite a lot of garlic, broccoli and dark chocolate. Regardless of whether these foods are beneficial or not, I like them anyway, so I can’t really lose, can I?”
For over 30 years it has been known that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is protective against certain types of cancer and heart disease. New compounds naturally occuring in plants have been discovered, these compounds are called phytochemicals. Thousands of different types of phytochemicals have been discovered, more are being discovered all the time. Phytochemicals provide plants with color and flavor, but also protect plants from microbes, insects and oxidation (they are antioxidants). Phytochemicals offer many protective benefits to plants. It is believed they also provide protective benefits to humans and help explain the health benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
Phytochemicals also seem to work best in combination with each other. The more colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals. A single orange has 200 different kinds of phytocemicals. Green tea is rich phytochemicals. These substances are not produced by our bodies and must be consumed in food. Once consumed they only stay in our bodies for a day or two.
Of course, when the protective benefits of phytochemicals became known, companies immediately began to investigate creating phytochemical supplements in pill form. But no one knows which are the most beneficial phytochemicals and in what amount and in what combination they are most effective. And how many pills would be required to provide the amount of phytochemicals in one serving of a particular fruit or vegetable? Would processed or artificially created phytochemicals still be as beneficial as those found in fresh fruits and vegetables? Those questions have not been answered.
This is a link to an article by Ohio State University regardiong phytochemicals, it’s worth a read: Phytochemicals –
Phytochemicals – Vitamins of the Future?, HYG-5050-98
I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and do now buy green tea- that is a change I’ve made in the sense of complementing my medical therapies. It’s easy, relatively cheap, and can cause no harm. It also gives me an excuse to buy some of the more expensive fruits and vegetables I love, even when they are out of season. And now my family and I go blueberry and strawberry picking almost every year!