Today I want to give you more insights about 3 different molecules you’re already familiar with, but maybe don’t know exactly how can they help you.
Just a short introduction
Most of your nutrition is plant based and the nutritional values of plants depends on their edible components, which give you proteins, carbs, vitamins and lipids. If you think that plants give you just these things and nothing else, I tell you: you just enter in a very complex and fascinating world.
Plants are also a great source of minerals, antioxidants (the colour of the skin suggests you the category), oestrogens and help you to destroy free radicals.
The plants you know today are the result of centuries of hybridization and selection processes due to the great revolution introduced by agriculture. Plants once wild, are now controlled by the human hand.
This process has been adopted in many areas around the world with examples like beans (central America), cotton (Africa and India) and rice. Becoming sedentary, the mankind brought with him many species increasing the biodiversity.
Nowadays, 90% of the calories introduced in your diet comes from cereals (rice, corn, barley or oat), legumes (beans, chickpea, lentils or soy), tubers (potatoes etc..) and oily plants like olive trees and sunflowers.
Researchers have estimated that 124 million children around the world need more vitamin A, as consequence 250.000 become blind every year, in this case it’s involved a lack of nutrients of a rice variety.
Plants produce a huge quantity of what are called “secondary metabolites” (small chemical molecules with important features). These molecules play a huge role to prevent, repulse or defend themselves from attacks of bugs, pathogens, drought, pollution or other type of negative conditions.
These metabolites are an incredible source of chemical compounds and the active ingredients are used to produce drugs of vegetable origin.
Vitamins are organic molecules, essential for your daily diet as your body does not produce them. Their structure is very different: it can be water-soluble (vitamin C and the group of vitamin B) or fat-soluble (vitamins A-D-E and K). Many of them are turned on only once in contact with specific enzymes, otherwise they act like a precursor of the vitamin itself.
The water-soluble are expelled very quickly, while the fat-soluble are stored up in the fatty tissues. Not being produced by your body, it’s the reason why you need to take them very often. Even if you’re different from everyone else, the lack of vitamins can cause many illnesses, please pay attention if you follow a rigid diet, you’re pregnant or you’re breastfeeding: your needs increase.
These substances are very common in the plant-world, you find terpene as part of carotenoids (the fruit’/plant’s skin is orange/yellow, while if it’s purple/blue it means it’s rich of anthocyanin pigments and have antioxidants) and vitamin K. Terpene are part of oily species and plants use them as deterrent against bugs or animals which don’t like that particular smell. You know some of them first hand: citronella, the essential oil extracted from rosemary and menthol.
(You can get more info about the specific substances and their antioxidant function in my FREE guide!)
These molecules are produced from amino acids and are stored up with water in a specific section of the vegetable cell.
You see how different and full of (sometimes-complicated) details are this world? I hope this writing gives you a little bit more insights about “famous” concepts like vitamins and let you discover new ones like terpene and alkaloids.
If you want to have a specific checklist about the benefits of these substances get my FREE “Veggie season & Super-fruits Help Checklist Guide” here!
I hope you liked this article and feel free to share below your opinions and experiences!
References: Pasqua G.- Abbate G.- Forni C. (2015) “Botanica Generale e Diversità Vegetale”, Piccin-Nuova Libraria