Healthy foods contain the standard nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, etc., but some of them pack an extra punch. They contain “bioactive compounds”, substances that boost our health in ways that have little or nothing to do with nutrition. Learning about bioactive compounds helps us find natural ways to stay healthy.
Here are just a few examples of bioactive compounds and the ways in which they help.
1) A high consumption of flavonoids has been shown to help reduce deaths from all causes, including cancer and heart disease. There are 6 different classes of flavonoids. Foods that contain them include red wine, kale, dark chocolate, red cabbage, and regular tea.
2) Antioxidants (which include flavonoids as well as other compounds) help the body balance free radicals. Excess free radicals are thought to contribute to the formation of cancers and the signs of aging. Foods that contain antioxidants include dark chocolate, berries, kale, tea and spinach.
3) Curcurmin is a polyphenol that is found in turmeric. It helps to combat inflammation.
4) Polypeptide-p is a bioactive compound found in bitter melon, an Asian vegetable. Polypeptide-p helps decrease blood glucose.