Vitamin C, Phytonutrients, and Antioxidants, oh my!

A newer category of nutrients undergoing scientific research is phytochemicals (also called phytonutrients), which includes antioxidants. This group of nutrients contains thousands of compounds that are naturally found in fruits and vegetables.  Indeed, there are so many of these nutrients that many have not been identified, and are thought to have benefits not even discovered yet!

Pear ClusterPhytochemicals are found in plant foods, and are thought to be essential for good health.  Of these, antioxidants have been the subject of a lot of research. In general, antioxidants prevent oxidation in our cells. Oxidation, or oxidative stress from free radicals, is a natural occurrence, but it may be a harmful cause or symptom of many chronic diseases.  For instance, oxidation is thought to play a major role in stroke, heart disease, and various cancers. Antioxidants may protect against and sometimes reverse these harmful reactions in our cells, and perhaps help avoid disease onset altogether!

Generally, fruits and vegetables are naturally occurring sources of antioxidants, and vitamin C is a very well-known antioxidant.  In fact, vitamin C is often called The Antioxidant Vitamin!  Aside from preventing oxidative damage, vitamin C is essential for normal growth and repair. It is needed for normal metabolism and tissue repair, proper immune functioning and guarding against infectious diseases, and vitamin C promotes healing of cuts, wounds, and bruises. Including a variety of vitamin C sources in the diet is essential for good health!

Pears are a good source of vitamin C! Each medium sized pear contains approximately 7mg, or 10%, of your daily need for vitamin C. Likewise, pears naturally house phytonutrients and antioxidants, a variety of which are found in the vibrantly colored skins of the different pear varieties. So choose a mix of colors for an added benefit!