Anti aging guide

Fighting Aging with Phytochemicals



Phytochemicals to Fight Aging

One particular group of anti-aging foods is the large group of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural substances present in fruit, vegetables as well as other plants or plant products. They have antioxidant properties but could also fight the aging process in several other ways.

Phytochemicals are split into four large groups:

  1. Flavonoids (also called polyphenols), which are further divided into two principal sub-groups: isoflavones and anthocyanidins, though there are other smaller groups such as the lignans
  2. Carotenoid
  3. Chlorophyl
  4. Betacyanin

Carotenoids are, as the name suggests, found in carrots, but also in many other plants and include the vitamin beta carotene. Chlorophyl and betacyanin will not be discussed here because they are not that important in aging, or at least not yet. Instead flavonoiocusedds will be f, as these are currently a hot topic in the field of anti-aging medicine.

As mentioned above, flavonoids are broadly divided into isoflavones and anthocyanidins. Isoflavones play an important role in the menopause. Anthocyanidins include chemicals from bilberries and cranberries, as well as from grapeseed and pine bark (pycnogenol). These chemicals are sometimes also called OPCs, (oligomeric proantocyanidins). They are used to help prevent macular degeneration, to prevent infections and to improve circulation. They are potent antioxidants, 50 times stronget than vitamin E. Anthocyanidins prevent free radical damage to proteins, cell membranes, collagen and DNA.

Scientific research on the effects of anthocyanidins shows that they are also effective at reducing joint inflammation, that they improve the fragility of the small veins of the skin, thus preventing easy bruising, and that they help maintain healthy skin. They also help prevent heart disease by improving the supporting materials collagen and elastin within the wall of the arteries. Certain anthocyanidins are used in cream form to help protect the skin from sun and age-related damage.

Pycnogenol, a particular type of anthocyanidin, is becoming increasingly popular in the field of anti-aging medicine. It has strong antioxidant properties and it is used to combat free radical damage, to the skin, heart and brain. However, tablets containing pycnogenol can sometimes cause mouth ulcers.

Strong concentrations of a variety of phytochemicals are present in:

  • Garlic
  • Grapes and berries
  • Herbs and seeds
  • Tomatoes
  • Pomegranates

Garlic lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and prevents stroke and heart disease. It has been used for thousands of years to promote health.

Grapes and berries should be eaten regularly, at least once a week. Strawberries, blueberries and red grapes contain 20 different types of natural antioxidants.

As for herbs, thyme, rosemary, frankincense and oregano are all good antioxidants and anti-aging factors. Researchers from Scotland have been using herbs in order to fight age-related damage in mice and other laboratory animals. Thyme oil and some other herbs are also available in capsule or liquid form. Instead of sprinkling salt on your food, use dried mixed herbs for taste.

Seeds from pumpkins, sesame and sunflowers contain natural anti-aging substances and should be used regularly as part of an age-defying diet. Chew the seeds thoroughly to break the husk.

If you look into this subject, you will be surprised to discover how many different edible types of seeds are on the market. A single seed has inside it the power to create a whole new plant, complete with flowers or fruit, so you can imagine how it can energize your health.

Raw tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a powerful natural anticancer chemical. Sun-dried and tinned tomatoes are also very useful, but cooked tomatoes or tomato sauce are the best. Lycopene is better absorbed in the presence of oil, so, for example, eat tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil. Tomatoes also contain other types of phytochemicals which have antioxidant properties.

Pomegranates contain the agent virucide which can kill more than 1,000 million viruses in a few minutes. They may be helpful in shortening the duration of colds, flu, cold sores and other viral infections.

People who eat one chocolate bar (40g) a week are likely to live, on average, one year longer than those who don’t eat chocolate at all. Researchers reported in the British Medical Journal that chocolate contains the antioxidants phenols which help lower the risk of heart disease. Eating chocolate three or more times a week, though, causes an increase in the death rate.

There are many different types and groups of phytochemicals. All of these are strong antioxidants and they can be used in reducing the risk of cancer.


Flavonoids also have other effects. Research has shown that regular use of flavonoids reduces the risk of heart disease and can soften the symptoms of the menopause.

Flavonoids are abundant in:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Mangoes
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Dark beer
  • Red wine
  • Tea
  • Grape juice
Posted by Carol Hudgens - January 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm