Phytochemicals (phyto from the Greek word for “plant”) include a wide variety of naturally occurring nonessential nutrients produced by plants, but the term phytochemical is usually reserved for the compounds with a biological significance. They are responsible for the color, smell, and flavor in the fruits and vegetables we eat. Phytochemicals provide a natural barrier for plants against fungi, bacteria, viruses, bugs, and pollution. When consumed, these benefits are passed along to humans by altering chemical processes and protecting against chronic disease. There are thousands of known phytochemicals although only a small fraction have been studied.

Phytochemicals act alone, collaborate with other phytochemicals, or work with other nutrients in the body to produce a wide range of benefits. Laboratory findings have shown phytochemicals have the ability ...

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