Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. These are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals."Phyto" refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.
Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients. Other plant-based foods also contain phytonutrients, such as:
- Whole grains
Phytonutrients aren't essential for keeping you alive, unlike the vitamins and minerals that plant foods contain. But when you eat or drink phytonutrients, they may help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.
More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. WebMD takes a look at these six important phytonutrients -- and their potential health effects:
- Ellagic acid
More than 600 carotenoids provide yellow, orange, and red colors in fruits and vegetables.
Carotenoids act as antioxidants in your body. This means they tackle harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout your body.
The types of carotenoids that may have other health benefits include: