Summertime Phytonutrients

Posted on August 17th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Summer is perfect for opening our senses to all that’s fresh and local. Choosing produce grown close to home yields great taste, supports your community’s farmers and economy, and cultivates a more direct connection to the earth. Nothing is more local than the herbs and greens you grow yourself. Greens are chock full of phytonutrients, plant compounds that provide a range of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as support the body’s natural detoxification process. Even if you’re not a gardener, you can still get a huge nutritional bang for your effort-filled buck by planting a few parsley, cilantro, or basil seeds in a window box.

Scientists are learning more about the power of phytonutrients every day. A single piece of fruit or serving of vegetable may contain hundreds or even thousands of different kinds, and the complex phytonutrient profiles of simple-seeming plants reminds us of the complexity of nature and of life itself. The role these nutrients play in health—if and how they synergize with other nutrients, and the interplay between them and our environments and lifestyle choices—are all active areas of research.

It’s clear that scientists are discovering what yogis have known all along: Fresh, local herbs and produce carry the essence of health. Let’s enjoy the taste of what summer offers us now.

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About Annie B. Kay, MS, RD, RYT

Annie is an integrative dietitian, author, and certified professional-level Kripalu Yoga teacher. She is a former director of the osteoporosis awareness program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For more than 10 years, Annie has advocated science-based mind-body health in the national media, at conferences and workshops, and through her book, Every Bite Is Divine.