Tag Archives: phytochemicals

Phytochemicals, compounds to cut cancer and heart risks

INDOLES
Phytochemicals have an important function to prevent some cancers and heart disease .
One of them are called Indoles. You find them in crusiferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and mustard greens. They have a bitter taste that bugs don’t like.
The phytochemical responsible for this way of plant protection is called Indole-3-
carbinol, known by researchers by the nickname I3C.
In humans, this compound plays a role in regulating hormones, which may be useful
in preventing breast cancer.

Researchers at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York City found that when
women took 400 milligrams of I3C a day, about the amount found in half a head of
cabbage, their levels of the harmless estrogen increased significantly.
In fact, they had the same levels as those found in marathon runners, which is quite a
feat, since vigorous exercise has been shown to have a strong positive effect on
estrogen levels. I3C also helps stop tumor cells from spreading to other parts of the body,
Studies also show that I3C may slow the growth and reproduction of prostate-cancer cells.
That’s why you should say yes to broccoli and cabbage.

ORGANOSULFUR COMPOUNDS
Other phytochemicals are organosulfur compounds, called allylic sulfides.
They are one of nature’s most potent compounds to decrease your risks of cancer and heart disease. They also raise good HDL cholesterol and stimulate enzymes that suppress tumors.
You will find them in onions, garlic, also but in lower concentration in leeks and chives.

Allylic sulfides also have the unique potency to keep cholesterol and other blood fats known as triglycerides from causing health-threatening blood clots and hardening of the arteries.
Allicin, which researchers believe to be the most potent compount in garlic, and diallyl
disulphyde also made blood vessels relax, reducing blood pressure and improving bloodflow.
Allicin also has potent germ killing powers. Studies show that it can kill microbes responsible for colds, the flu, tummy viruses, yeast infections, and possibly even tuberculosis.

Other studies have shown that taking two or more servings of garlic per week can help
protect against colon cancer. It can also stop the growth of cancer cells, once they develop.

PHYNOLIC COMPOUNDS
This is another phytochemical, also called polyphenols.You will find them in most fruits,
vegetables, cereal grains, and green and black teas. These compounds fight cancer on two
fronts. They stimulate protective enzymes while squelching harmful ones, and they’re also
havy-duty antioxidants.
Most active polyphenols include ellagic acid from strawberries, green tea polyphenols,
and curcumin, the yellow collering in turmeric.
Curcumin plays a role in cancer prevention because it act as an antioxidant.
It also seems to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent or help to treat Alzheimer’s
disease and arthritis.

SAPONINS
One of the most common phytochemicals are the saponins. You will find them in a wide
variety of vegetables, herbs and legumes, like spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, and oats.
Soy beans alone contain 12 different types of saponins.

Studies show that people who eat saponin-rich diets have consistently lower rates of breast- prostate- and colon cancer,
Unlike other cancer-fighting phytochemicals, however, saponins possess a unique array
of weapons. One way that they help prevent cancer is by binding with bile acids, which
over time may metabolize into cancer-causing compounds, and eliminating them from the
body, says Dr Rao, professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto.

They also stimulate the immune system so that’s better able to detect and destroy precancerous cells before they develop into full-blown cancer.

But perhaps the most important ability of saponins is to target the cholesterol found in cancer cell membranes. Cancer cells have a lot of cholesterol in their membranes, and saponins selectively binds to these cells and destroy them.

Not surprisingly , this ability to bind to cholesterol is helpful for lowering total cholesterol
as well. Saponins bind with bile acids, used for digestion in the intestinal tract.
The bile is then excreted, instead of being reabsorbed. Since bile acids are made of cholesterol, getting rid of some of these acids means that your body has to use up cholesterol to make more, effectively lowering cholesterol levels in the process.
See also my article titled: Phytonutrients, compounds from the garden for good health.

 

Health Benefits of Brown Rice

Rice is the main ingredient in cuisines around the world
with an estimated 40,000 varieties available worldwide.
In the United States you can buy white and brown basmati rice
from India and Pakistan, Arborio rice from Italy, Valencia rice
from Spain and “sticky”” rice from Japan, to name just a few.

Brown rice is the most nutritious kind of rice, which contains
abundant amounts of fiber, complex carbohydrates and essential
B vitamins. Brown rice retain all four parts of their original
grain kernel – the germ, the bran, a protective layer called
the aleurone, and the starchy endosperm – intact.

White rice only has the high-carb, nearly zero fiber endosperm.
What’s missing? Not just fiber, but hundreds of health-protective
phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, whole
grains can have 10 times the amount of vitamin E, four times
the potassium, magnesium and zinc; three times the vitamin B6,
and twice the selenium of white rice.

No wonder when you eat at least three servings of brown rice
a day, you cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and
overweight.

The body need small amounts of cholesterol for different functions,
for example for making cell walls and for manufacturing essential
hormones. In order to supply the necessary amounts, the liver
produces cholesterol every day. But when we eat a high-fat diet,
the body churns out more cholesterol than it can use.
As a result, the risk of heart disease goes up.
We can avoid this from happening by eating brown rice.
A compound in the bran layer of rice, called oryzanol, has been shown
to reduce the body’s production of cholesterol.
This compound is actually chemically similar to cholesterol-lowering
medications.

In a study at Louisiana State University, people ate 100 grams of
rice bran a day for three weeks. At the end, levels of harmful
low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), cholesterol decreased by 10%, while
levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
stayed the same. That means a 30% reduction in risk of heart attack.
Ïn combination with a low-fat diet, brown rice is one of the best
foods you can eat for lowering cholesterol”, says Dr.Hegsted.

Fiber offers powerful protection against type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that eating at least three servings of brown rice a day,
cuts the risk for this condition by 21% to 30%. Because fiber slows
digestion and keeps blood sugar low and steady.

In contrast, carbohydrates from refined grains ( white rice) send
blood sugar soaring after a meal, and triggering the release of
more insulin to force the sugar into cells.
Over time, higher blood sugar and insulin levels put you in the
danger zone for diabetes – and also for high blood pressure and
even some forms of cancer.

The insoluble kind of fiber in brown rice acts like a sponge in the
intestine, soaking up large amounts of water, according to Dr. Hegsted.
As a result, stools are getting larger and wetter, so they pass
more easily. Also, larger stools move faster through the colon.
As a result, any harmful substances that they contain, have less time
to damage cells in the colon wall, which may reduce the risk of cancer.

Some researchers estimate that if people would increase the amount of
fiber in their diets to 39 grams a day, they could drop the risk of
colon cancer by 31%.