The study of phytochemicals is one of the most important areas of nutrition research today. The word Phyto means “plant” in Greek, implying that these chemicals are found in plants. Scientists who study these naturally occurring substances are coming up with some very interesting findings. Apparently, phytochemicals have a wide variety health benefits, including protection of the heart.

There are literally thousands of phytochemicals and only a relatively small percentage has been analyzed so far. What we can say with reasonable certainty, however, is that a diet rich in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts) helps to lower blood pressure and reduces the risk for inflammation. Phytochemicals seem to be the reason.

Different plants species contain different combinations of phytochemicals. The information below contains the results of some studies conducted so far. With more research on the way, scientists are likely to find additional properties in plant foods, perhaps with more health benefits. There are a number of foods that provide excellent sources for phytochemicals. Here are a few examples:

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