Our mission

Mission of this society is to promote health benefits of phytonutrients.

What are Phytonutrients?
   The term “phyto” originates from the Greek word meaning plant. Phytonutrients are natural components of plants thought to offer benefits to health. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and teas are rich sources of phytonutrients. Unlike the basic nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals), phytonutrients are not “essential” for life, so some scientists prefer the term “phytochemical” rather than “phytonutrient”. However, for consumer messaging, the term “phytonutrient” conveys a stronger health message given people prefer to eat “nutrients” rather than “chemicals”. For the purposes of encouraging consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables, it is advised to use the nutrient terminology. While phytonutrients have been part of the chemical composition of fruits and vegetables for as long as they have been grown, it is only in recent years that specific phytonutrients have been isolated, identified and studied for their many beneficial qualities. Scientists are continuing to identify new phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables — one orange is believed to contain over 170 phytonutrients. For the purposes of quantifying the phytonutrient gap, various selected phytonutrients of interest including carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene), flavonoids (anthocyanidins, epigallocatechin 3-gallate or “EGCG”, hesperitin, quercetin), phenolics (ellagic acid, resveratrol), isothiocyanates, isoflavones, curcuminoids and allicin are focused. The descriptive science names may be confusing to the average consumer, and yet, it is important for consumers to understand a “food first” message within an “eat by color” paradigm which encompasses the phytonutrients. Therefore, for a generalized “eat by color” approach, consumers should ideally eat the richest colors from each color grouping, and consume 2 servings a day from each for a total of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. In order to align the consumer-facing “eat by color” paradigm with the research findings about the “gap”, this report will quantify the phytonutrient gap by color. The “phytonutrient gap” is defined as the percentage of the population with phytonutrient intakes less than the median intake (“prudent intake” or PI) by adults who meet recommended daily intakes of fruits and vegetables. In other words, this “gap” represents the shortfall of phytonutrient intakes based on an average level of phytonutrient intake consistent with a “prudent diet” which is high in fruits and vegetables. It is important to point out that a “prudent diet” may still fall short of desirable or optimal levels of some or even most phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables and other plant sources including teas and beans.