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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Bioactive Compounds: Unsung Heroes of Health

Jun 07, 2019 01:45AM ● By Eric Zielinski, D.C.
by Eric Zielinski, D.C.

Today’s obsession with fad diets for weight loss and health often leaves people frustrated; most of those diets are ineffective. This failure may be due in part to the lack of bioactive compounds—important nutrients that can help to improve health and achieve desired weight loss—in their formulas and menu plans.

What Are Bioactive Compounds?

Bioactive compounds are unique phytochemicals in foods that can affect metabolic processes and promote better health. For example, flavonoids, carotenoids and polyphenols are bioactives with antioxidant properties. So are essential oils and fiber.

Bioactives are nonessential nutrients; the body can produce minimum amounts of them on its own. Essential nutrients, on the other hand, such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, are not produced in the body, so we need to consume them through our food.  While they’re “nonessential,” bioactives are absolutely critical for robust health.

This is an important consideration in light of the recent spike in fad diets that promote heavy consumption of meat and animal fat while reducing the intake of carbohydrates. Research strongly suggests that diets that consist primarily of animal fat and protein can reduce the chances of enjoying optimal health. The reason? Most of these fad diets focus only on essential nutrients and ignore bioactive compounds.

The Essential Eight

The eight essential foods rich in bioactive compounds can be integrated into a healthy diet fairly easily. A diet rich in these foods will greatly support optimal health and wellness:
  1. For example, hemp seeds are rich in omega-3, protein, amino acids and minerals.
  2. Healthy fats and oils. For example, extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which helps fight disease.
  3. Berries, for example, are packed with bioactive compounds and are an excellent source of fiber.
  4. Cruciferous vegetables. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts have numerous disease-fighting benefits.
  5. A handful a day can help fight obesity.
  6. Many types of beans can help prevent cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
  7. Wild-caught, cold-water fish. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Herbal and matcha green Great sources of powerful antioxidants.

The Benefits

The benefits of a diet rich in bioactive foods include the ability to:
  • burn calories more efficiently
  • protect cells against free radicals
  • fine-tune the metabolism to have more energy throughout the day
  • reduce risk of illness and slow down aging
  • offer freedom from fad diets and counting calories
Every day, our bodies are bombarded by toxins in our food, soil, air and water, such as pesticides and preservatives sprayed on foods, and cleaning chemicals used in public spaces. Overuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the destruction of a healthy gut biome, which is necessary for a healthy immune system. Studies show that over time, toxins can accumulate in the body and contribute to the development of disease and obesity.

Thankfully, bioactive foods help counter these attacks. Essential oils are also rich in bioactive compounds, making them highly beneficial to health. Abundant with antioxidants, bioactives can help fight disease and slow the progress of aging. Studies show that they help protect the body against diabetes and obesity, and can even help manage blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fat-burning Iced Matcha

Simply adding bioactive foods and essential oils to the diet can provide a host of health benefits. With a wide variety to choose from, they offer more freedom to create enjoyable menus instead of struggling with a strict food regimen. This iced matcha beverage is fat-burning and delicious.


Prep: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

1 Tbsp matcha green tea powder 2 cups unsweetened vanilla-flavored almond or coconut milk, chilled, or unsweetened almond or coconut “creamer” 4 droppers vanilla- or coconut-flavored liquid stevia 1 drop each cinnamon bark and peppermint essential oils (optional) Ice cubes

Pour matcha powder, almond milk beverage, stevia and essential oil drops into a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, until frothy. Pour the mixture into a 32-ounce glass bottle. Fill to the top with ice. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Dr. Eric Zielinski is the author of The Healing Power of Essential Oils and The Essential Oils Diet: Lose Weight and Transform Your Health with the Power of Essential Oils and Bioactive Foods.  For more information, visit

Essential Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important to take proper precautions whenever you use essential oils. Here are some important do’s and don’ts:


  1. Learn the basics of essential oils before using them.
  2. Use oils in a diffuser or inhaler throughout the day.
  3. When ingesting essential oils, use only pure, unadulterated oils and always dilute in an edible carrier oil.
  4. Enjoy essential oils in your favorite recipes. 1-2 drops of essential oil is equal to 1 teaspoon of an herb or spice.
  5. Have fun making do-it-yourself preparations, such as soaps, lotions and spritzers.
  6. Discontinue use immediately if adverse reactions appear.
  7. If you are taking medications for a health condition, consult with your physician first before using essential oils.


  1. Don’t add oils to water alone and drink – they don’t mix!
  2. Don’t use oils on the skin without diluting in a carrier base or cream.
  3. Don’t consume essential oils for prevention as a long-term strategy.
  4. Don’t add drops directly into your mouth or under your tongue.
  5. Don’t overdo it or think that each health condition can be approached the same way. You can overdose on consuming too many essential oils.
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