Americans Fall Short on Phytonutrients

February 17/Grand Rapids, Mich./PR Newswire -- As heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the U.S. for all adults, a new report released by the Nutrilite Health Institute, "America's Phytonutrient Report: Heart Health by Color," shows that Americans are falling short on heart-healthy phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are the natural plant-based compounds that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and provide potential health benefits. Using NHANES and USDA data, the report explores phytonutrient gaps and key phytonutrient food sources that research suggests are important contributors to heart health. It finds only two out of 10 Americans consume "prudent intake" levels of select heart-healthy phytonutrients, leaving the other 80% with a "cardio phytonutrient gap."

"This report makes it clear that most adults are not getting the recommended intakes of fruits and vegetables, which are packed with beneficial compounds like phytonutrients," says Dr. Ken Kornman of Interleukin Genetics, and Scientific Advisory board member for Nutrilite Health Institute. "It also points out that adults who do not meet the recommendations are more likely to have conditions, such as high blood pressure, that are associated with heart disease. In light of the prevalence of heart disease, and other diet-related disorders, in this country, this report sheds light on the potential importance of making people more aware of phytonutrients in the diet."

Heart-Healthy Phytonutrients
Phytonutrients are natural components or compounds of plants thought to offer benefits to health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are rich sources of phytonutrients. Though there are many important phytonutrients, the report focuses on four -- allicin, quercetin, anthocyanidins and resveratrol -- that research suggests may benefit the heart. These compounds are grouped in the white and purple/blue color categories and are commonly found in garlic, onions, apples, blueberries and grapes.

Closing the "Cardio Phytonutrient Gap"
According to "America's Phytonutrient Report: Heart Health by Color," 83% of Americans are not getting enough "white" phytonutrients (allicin, quercetin), most commonly found in garlic, onions and apples. Also, 76% of Americans are not getting enough "purple/blue" phytonutrients (anthocyanidins, resveratrol), found in blueberries and grapes for example.

From the March 8, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition Special: Heart Health