Essential fatty acids are vital to the structure and function of tissues, especially nerve and brain tissues and cell membranes. Research has shown omega oils contribute to memory, cognition, lung health, skin integrity and health and cardiovascular health while protecting against Alzheimer’s, depression, asthma, ADHD and even certain cancers.
Phytochemical – although literally “plant chemical,” usually refers to any compound from a plant source that may be efficacious to health. Used interchangeably with “phytonutrient.” About 10,000 have been identified to date, and perhaps as many more remain unidentified.
Phytoestrogen – also called “plant estrogens,” these phytochemicals show mild estrogenlike ability. Soybeans are a major source of these highly studied compounds. They may help regulate cholesterol and reduce the risk of some cancers. They might help maintain bone density post-menopause and could be mildly helpful at reducing menopausal symptoms.
Phytosterol – also called plant sterols, phytosterols are steroid alcohols naturally occurring in plants. In addition to antioxidant capacity, they have shown strong ability to help reduce serum cholesterol and protect against cardiovascular disease.
Polydextrose – a fiber made up of dextrose, sorbitol and citric acid. A lower-calorie sweetener, polydextrose acts as a prebiotic fiber to promote gut health.
Polyphenol – antioxidant flavonols which have been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and the onset of Alzheimer’s. Found in high levels in grape seeds and skins, as well as in black currants, pomegranates, yerba maté, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine and virgin olive oil. Prebiotic – compounds that can promote the growth of healthful bacteria in the digestive tract, especially the colon.
Probiotic – any of a number of beneficial bacteria or yeast, such as lactic acid bacteria. They convert carbohydrates (such as the milk sugar lactose) into lactic acid, aiding digestion and lowering gastrointestinal pH. See “yogurt cultures.”
Quercitin – a highly bioactive and antioxidant flavonoid compound in tea and grapes (especially red wine), apples and cranberries. Acts as the base for number of other flavonoids. Shows strong anti-inflammatory activity and inhibits the manufacture and release of histamines.
Resistant starch – starch, such as high amylose corn, that resists digestion in the small intestine while helping to form butyrate and encourage healthful flora in the large intestine. Has proven valuable in weight management and cancer prevention.
Resveretrol – a polyphenolic compound found in grape seeds and skins; studied for its antioxidant and anticancer effects.
Selenium – a mineral unique in having antioxidant properties; found in nuts and whole grains. Sterol – see “phytosterol,” above.
Tocopherol – a natural form of vitamin E with strong antioxidant capacity. Found in nuts, whole grains and other plant sources, tocopherols are critical to cellular health and protect against cardiovascular disease and other diseases.
Tocotrienol – an isomer of vitamin E found in palm oil and other plant sources which has strong antioxidant capacity.
Xanthine – an isomer of caffeine found in plants such as yerbamaté; although it has a stimulating effect it is reported to trigger fewer enervating side effects than caffeine and be less irritating to the digestive system.
Yogurt cultures – live, active microbes, specifically lactobacteria, that help foster a healthy colon, help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Include Lactobacillus bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. acidophilus and L. bifidus and L. reuteri.
Zeaxanthine – an antioxidant and anti-cataract carotenoid found in eggs, dark leafy greens and red and orange fruits, vegetables and plants. Critical to eye health.