Secondary plant substances in raw food lower blood pressure and cholesterol

Secondary plant substances in raw food lower blood pressure and cholesterol


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Protection against cancer: phytochemicals for better health
Secondary plant substances, which can be found in numerous fruits and vegetables, serve to promote health. They can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and protect against cancer. The varied diet is important, but also the type of preparation.

Bitter substances - colorants - flavorings
Secondary plant substances can be found in many different forms in many plants. For example, as bitter substances in grapefruit or orange. Or as yellow, orange, red or blue dyes in apples, carrots, tomatoes, grapes or cherries. Furthermore, they are contained as flavorings in spices, herbs and salads and give horseradish its spiciness. Depending on their chemical structure and the function they have in plants, these substances are divided into different groups such as carotenoids, sulfides, phytosterols, flavonoids and many more. Scientists assume that there are about 60-100,000 of these ingredients in food, only a fraction has been analyzed so far. A message from the news agency gives an overview of how the protective substances work and which foods contain a lot of them.

Plant substances reduce the risk of cancer
In recent years, numerous studies have shown that such substances also have a variety of positive effects in humans. Hartmut Henß from the Cancer Center of the University Medical Center Freiburg (CCCF) said according to the dpa: "Probably many of these substances act as antioxidants in the human body." In addition, a number of other cancer-inhibiting mechanisms of action of certain groups of phytochemicals are known. Scientists believe that the plant substances reduce the risk of lung, breast and colon cancer.

Different effects of different substances
Some groups of phytonutrients, such as phytosterols, are thought to be effective in cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood pressure or cholesterol. Some substances are associated with special hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering or anti-thrombotic effects. In the past, studies have also shown that the flavonoids also contained in cocoa beans can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes and counteract age-related memory loss. They also have anti-inflammatory effects, protect the body from harmful radicals and help to strengthen the immune system.

Mix of many different types of fruit and vegetables
Henß emphasized: "From today's point of view, it is useless to eat a substance four or five times a day, only five times a day, only tomatoes." Such individual effects are usually not scientifically proven in humans, at most in animal experiments or by tests with the pure substances in the laboratory. For humans to be able to absorb the substances in such large quantities, they have to be water-soluble, for example. But many of the known phytochemicals are only to a small extent, said Henß. There are many indications that the different plant substances have a mutually reinforcing effect. "There are studies that show that the greater the botanical diversity in nutrition, the greater the health benefits," explained Prof. Bernhard Watzl from the Max Rubner Institute in Karlsruhe. Therefore, a colorful mix of many different types of fruit and vegetables and other plants should be on the menu.

It depends on the preparation
There are plants that contain a particularly large number of the healthy substances. "Local seasonal vegetables such as carrots, spinach, broccoli or cabbage are a common carrier of secondary plant substances," said Harald Hoppe, top organic chef and nutrition expert for the Inform campaign. Fruits, forest fruits, herbs and spices such as saffron, turmeric, curry or garlic also contain large quantities and belong on the table. When it comes to preparation, there is also a lot to be said for diversity, and above all for eating fruit and vegetables more often unprocessed, as Watzl said. Many of the healthy substances are lost through peeling or heating. For example, the valuable flavonoids are mainly found in the shell of cereals, fruits and vegetables. And the body can only absorb fat-soluble carotenoids such as lycopene from tomatoes together with fat.

Germans usually don't get the recommended amount of vegetables
In order to absorb secondary plant substances and other important plant compounds in sufficient quantities, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends five servings or 650 grams of fruit and vegetables a day, of which about 400 grams as vegetables and lettuce and 250 grams as fruit. A study at University College London showed that having seven instead of five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is likely to have a healthier effect. However, most people don't even manage five servings. According to Watzl, the average consumption of vegetables in Germany is only 124 grams per day. Hoppe said that this was often due to wrong recipes and nutritional strategies. Experts advise that fruits and vegetables be included in every meal so that you get your daily amount. It can help, among other things, to cut fruit and vegetables into small pieces for snacks.

Organic products contain more of the healthy substances
For those who do not like fruits and vegetables pure, smoothies are a delicious change. Wild plants can also be easily integrated into the mixed fruit and vegetable drinks. "Wild plants contain real packages of secondary plant substances," says Hoppe. Also recommended: a raw food platter with dips or grilled vegetables. In terms of content of secondary plant substances, organic products are proven to be ahead. These do not get any artificial fertilizer and can mature better. As the agency report concludes, a recently published large study found up to 60 percent more bioactive substances in organic products than in conventional fruits and vegetables. (ad)

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