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Phytochemicals and where to find them

January 22, 1999

Here is a list of some types of phytochemicals, their functions and what foods and spices in which they are found:

* Carotenoids: Contain antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease. These antioxidants also are pigments in plants, giving foods such as tomatoes, watermelon and sweet potatoes their bright colors. Found in tomato products, grapefruit, guava and in orange, yellow and green vegetables.

* Flavonoids: Can help prevent osteoporosis by maintaining bone strength, can enhance estrogen metabolism, which may protect the body from breast cancer, and can reduce menopausal symptoms. Found in citrus fruits, berries, wine, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, broccoli, cabbage and squash.

* Isoflavones: Contain antioxidants, can inhibit cancer cell growth and lower blood cholesterol. Found in soy products such as soybeans and tofu and garbanzo beans, also known as chick peas.

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* Monoterpenes: Contain antioxidants, can kill damaged cells and remove them from the body, can reduce cholesterol and menopausal symptoms. Found in citrus, mushrooms, parsley, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, cabbage, yams, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, mint, caraway seeds, basil and thyme.

* Indoles: Can protect against hormone-related cancer, particularly breast cancer. Found in cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy.

* Sulphur compounds: Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduce clotting, contain sulphides thought to stimulate enzymes that inhibit bacterial growth. Found in garlic, onions, leeks, chives and scallions.

- Sources: Cyndi Thomson, a spokeswoman for American Dietetic Association; "Health News," a publication of University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine; American Institute for Cancer Research; Integrative Medicine Inc.; Knight Ridder

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