A Quick View to Phytochemicals


The word phyto derived from the Greek word which means Plant. The chemicals produced by the plants are known as phytochemicals. They are produced in the plants through the metabolism: primary and secondary metabolisms. The biological activities of phytochemicals are important for defense from the predators and competitors and growth of a plant. Phytochemicals are nonnutritive and nonessential for a human being, classified into the carotenoid; flavonoids (fruit and vegetable) and polyphenols (tea and grape) and abstracted from the plants by extraction and isolation process.  But some studies say they are important for the human being as well.


History shows that phytochemicals were used in ancient time as well as the medicines and the poisons. Some phytochemicals are poisonous and in the ancient time, such poisonous phytochemicals were used to make poisonous arrow to kill the enemies and hunt the animals in the jungles. There is a rumor that a queen used the toxic arrow to kill her own husband, the emperor of the empire. One of the poisonous plants containing deadly chemical is Atropa belladonna, well known as deadly nightshade, though; the most interesting thing is that some fruits and vegetable that we take in our daily diet fall on the family of nightshade. They are tomatoes, potatoes etc. The reason for the toxicity of plant is due to the presence of tropane alkaloid presenting in the foliage and berries causes the delirium and hallucination.


Don’t be afraid of the negative aspect of the phytochemicals, they also have much more beneficial effects as well. Phytochemicals are not only the protective or defensive for a plant but also for human beings.  They are very much important because they prevent us from cancer and heart disease. Regular eating of phytochemicals works as:


i.                     Antioxidant

Anti means opposite and oxidant means the species that combines with oxygen. So antioxidant means phytochemicals that prevent the oxidation of body cells causes cancer in us. Eating of onion, leeks, and garlic reduces the risk of cancer as they contain the phytochemical say Allyl sultides.


ii.                 Antibacterial effect

Bacteria cause many kinds of the infections in our body if the infection gets more it may lead to death. To prevent such risk there is very simple takes some garlic in your diet. That prevents the bacterial effects.


We get enough phytochemicals from the fruits like apple, grape, orange, pomegranate, cherries etc, vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, tea, broccoli. They contain protein and very low level of saturated fat. 


Author: Narayan Gyawali
Training Specialist, Educator