What foods are good sources of phytochemicals?

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
Even the most humble fruits and vegetables are replete with phytochemicals -- chemical substances made by plants that affect their taste, color, scent, and other properties. The searing bite of hot peppers, the pungent whiff of garlic, the deep orange hue of carrots, and the red blush on tomatoes all owe a tip of the hat to different phytochemicals -- in these instances, capsaicin, organosulfur compounds, and the carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene. Spices, oils, wine, tea, and other plant-derived foods and beverages also contain a variety of phytochemicals, including flavonoids. Although plants develop phytochemicals partly as a defense against predators, some of these substances appear to be beneficial for people. Experts believe these substances might explain the many health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and perhaps nuts, whole grains, vegetables oils, and even dark chocolate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.