Know about phytochemicals in your diet

What do tomato, onion, apple all have in common? They do not belong to the same food group nor do they have the same nutrients. Tomato has ample of lycopene, onion contains sulphur compound and apple contains quercetin. These foods contain phytochemicals.

Phytochemicals in your diet
Image Credit: Flickr/ Just_Jane
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring compounds in plants but are not nutrients. These compounds have strong biologic actions when they are consumed at effective levels on regular basis. Awareness in these compounds has developed because of compelling evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains improves health and decreases risk of chronic degenerative diseases.

Phytochemicals are chemicals that vary from plant to plant. They include thousands of pigments, antioxidants and thousands of other compounds that have been associated with protection from heart diseases, hypertension, cancer and diabetes mellitus.

Phytochemicals – Their food sources and Actions



Whole grains Reduces risk of
diabetes , heart diseases and some types of cancer
Capsaicin Hot peppers, chillies Prevents clot formation of blood and reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Carotenoids (includes beta carotene, lycopene, lutein) Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes Boosts antioxidant activity
Improves vision, contribute to maintenance of prostrate health.
Curcumin Turmeric Inactivates enzymes that activates carcinogens
Dietary fat(Beta glucan, cellulose, gums and mucilage) Whole grains, oats, legumes, Whole pulses. Promotes a healthy digestive tract, reduces risk of heart disease, and maintains healthy blood glucose levels.
Fatty acids
fatty acid (PUFA)
fatty acid (MUFA)

Walnuts, flax seed

Olive oil

May reduce risk of heart diseases, improves mental and visual function
Flavanones Citrus foods Boosts antioxidant activity

Onions, apples, tea, broccoli Bolster cellular antioxidant defences

Peanuts, Cinnamon Maintains urinary tract health and heart health
Prebiotics and probiotics Whole grains, onions, garlics, honey, yoghurt Improves gastrointestinal health, and healthy immune function
Soy proteins Soya based foods Improves heart health
Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Maintanance of menopausal health in women
Sulphides and thiols Cruciferous vegetables like brocolli,cauli flower, kale, cabbage, raddish Healthy immune function


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