What Are Phytochemicals?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
- Phytochemicals are compounds made by plants that provide health benefits to humans.
- The benefits of phytochemicals include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and chronic diseases.
- Taking a supplement like fatty15 can help support your overall health and provide better health effects than other popular fatty acid supplements.*
Phytochemicals have been studied for decades, but they’re a relatively new buzzword in the health and wellness industry. The more we know about the benefits of consuming plants, the more we understand how their compounds can benefit our bodies.
Let’s explore what phytochemicals are, where they are found, and learn the benefits of different phytochemicals.
What Are the Types of Phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are compounds produced by plants that are non-essential nutrients. These are bioactive plant nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and other plants we can consume.
Phytochemicals are thought to protect against disease, provide nutrition, and support the systems in our bodies. They are best known for reducing the risk of disease associated with oxidative damage because many have antioxidant properties.
There are over 10,000 phytochemicals that have been discovered. These are usually classified into six groups: phenolic acids, alkaloids, terpenoids, carbohydrates, and lipids.
This group of phytochemicals includes flavonoids like anthocyanins, quercetin, flavones, and flavonols), phytoestrogens like isoflavones, tannins, lignans, polyphenols, stilbenoids like resveratrol, isothiocyanates, indoles, and catechins.
They are found in the highest concentrations in berries, like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries. They are also found in legumes, soybeans, whole graincereals and oats, nuts, cocoa, coffee, red wine, and even beer.
This group of phytochemicals is antioxidant-rich. Antioxidants help protect your body from free radical damage. Free radicals are unbalanced molecules that rob other cells of their electrons and create damage.
Antioxidants protect against this type of damage by offering up one of their electrons, so your cells don’t have to. Protection against oxidative damage may help support heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
This class of phytochemicals includes glucosinolates, which are found in cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. They can help support colon health and are even used therapeutically as pain relievers and anesthetics.
The phytochemicals known as terpenoids include carotenoids like lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and limonoids. They are found in carrots, tomatoes, citrus fruits, mushrooms, and certain mosses.
These phytochemicals can also provide antioxidant support and also have antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties.
Basic carbohydrates are another form of phytochemicals. They include saccharides and sugar alcohols and are found in all plants. The body breaks these down into glucose to provide energy to our cells.
Fatty acids and fats are found in many plants, but not all plants. They are most often found in seeds and seed oils like olive oil and sunflower seed oil.
Fatty acids do different things inside our bodies, whether from plant-based foods or animal sources. Some fatty acids are good for us, and some are not.
Understanding Fatty Acids
You’re probably most familiar with one fatty acid called omega-3. There are three main omega-3 fatty acids, but only one (ALA) is considered essential, meaning our bodies need it but can’t readily make it on their own.
People take omega-3 for health benefits like cardiovascular support and healthy cholesterol numbers. Unfortunately, the amount of omega-3 needed to achieve these benefits is very high, sometimes requiring 10 to 12 fish oil pills per day to reach the suggested 2,000 mg to 3,000 mg per day.
At these levels, omega-3 can carry side effects like:
- Increased risk of bruising
- Thinning of blood
- Low blood pressure
- Increased risk of bleeding if you were to get injured
Coupled with these risks are the fishy aftertaste, fish burps, and gastric upset that are often associated with omega-3 supplements. Omega-3’s are also polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are liquids at room temperature and, therefore prone to oxidation. Just like cooking oil can go rancid, Omega-3s can as well. That means that fish oil can go rancid inside their bottles and inside your cells.
There’s a better essential fatty acid, C15:0, and when compared head-to-head with omega-3, C15:0 was found to have three times more clinically relevant benefits then the purest, most effective form of omega-3.
C15:0: A Better Fatty Acid
Although we have been told that all saturated fats are bad for us, science now supports that that is not the case.
C15:0, an odd-chain saturated fatty acid has recently been identified as an essential fatty acid. Science supports that higher levels of C15:0 are associated with better metabolic, immune, liver and heart health.*
There are now calls to action to update current dietary guidelines to differentiate between good and bad saturated fats.
Where To Get C15:0
C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in full-fat dairy products. However, increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products may not be ideal as they come with extra calories, sugars, and higher levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats.
A solution? Fatty15.
Fatty15 is an award-winning, breakthrough supplement born from scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient, FA15™, the pure, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced version of C15:0. Taking just one fatty15 capsule per day is enough to raise your circulating levels of C15:0 and give you more cellular benefits than omega-3. A recent study of fatty15 vs. the purest, highest performing omega-3 showed that C15:0 had:*
- 26 more clinically relevant benefits than omega-3.
- Better cellular support. Fatty15 repaired 10 out of 12 cell types studied. Omega-3 could only safely repair four.
- Better cell safety. Fatty15 was safe for all 12 cell types studied, but omega-3 was toxic to four of them, including lung and blood vessel cells.
Consuming plant foods is a great way to pack phytonutrients into your diet, which can support your immune system and even reduce your risk of certain diseases. Including fatty15 in your health stack is a smart choice that can improve your cellular health and support your long-term health and wellness.*
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE'
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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