Phytochemicals ("fight-o-chemicals") are substances that are naturally occurring only in plants.
Some of them may provide health benefits beyond those provided by essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
Eating a variety of colorful phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables has
been associated with a lower risk of
some chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Phytochemicals may
act as antioxidants,
protect and regenerate essential nutrients, and/or work to deactivate cancer-causing
It is thought that phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber,
all present in fruits and vegetables, work synergistically in whole foods to promote health and lower disease
risk. For this reason, many authoritative organizations, such as the National Cancer Institute and The
American Heart Association, recommend getting phytochemicals from
whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than from supplements.