Phytochemicals: Vitamins of the Future?




Phyto is a Greek word for plants and chemicals are substances. Therefore, phytochemicals are substances found in plants. These “plant substances” are also helpful in preventing diseases like cancer and those that affect the heart. So far, scientists know of 3,000 different phytochemicals with possible health benefits.

Phytochemical terminology

Definitions we may need to know include:

Free radicals: These are byproducts of metabolism. They are capable of causing cells to lose their structure, function, and eventually destroying them. They are connected with the development of 50 diseases, including heart diseases and cancer.


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Antioxidants: These are substances capable of stabilising or deactivating free radicals before they attack the cells.

Chemo prevention: This means using one or several compounds to prevent, stop or reverse the development of cancer.

Designer food: Are processed foods that are supplemented with food ingredients naturally rich in disease-preventing substances.

Nutraceutical: Specific chemical compounds in foods, including vitamins and additives, which may aid in preventing disease.

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Pharmafood: Food or nutrients that claim medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.

Cancer: A disease of the body cells.

Carcinogenesis: This is a multistage process.

Initiation: The transformation of cell .n

Promotion: Cells multiply to form a tumor.

Progression: Leads to a malignant tumour.

So what’s so exciting about phytochemical’s?

Their apparent ability to stop a cells conversion from healthy to cancerous.

They inhibit various hormone actions and metabolic pathways that are associated with the development of cancer and heart diseases.

Some phytochemicals have been found to lower LDL cholesterol.

Others have been found to help prevent blood clotting, reduce how much cholesterol the body produces and keep blood pressure down.

Phytochemicals are also being used in cancer treatment in dosages.

Researchers still don’t know a lot about phytochemicals. However, they do know that people who eat large quantities of fruits and veggies have reduced cancer risks. It means such people are doing something right! The highest anti-cancer activity can be found in garlic, soybeans, cabbage, tinger, liquorice root, aloe and the umbelliferous vegetables.

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Additional foods found to have cancer protective activity includes onions, flax, citrus, tumeric, cruciferous veggies, tomatoes, sweet peppers and brown rice.

The phytochemical family

There are thousands of phytochemicals. But some of their basic classes are found in these foods:

Cruciferous vegetables. (eg broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, dark leafy greens. Phytochemicals found: Organosulphur and Glucosinolates. They may help prevent cancer.

Tomatoes and Watermelons.

Phytochemical found: Lycopene. Lycopene has been found to be two times as powerful as beta carotene in the destruction of free radicals.

Onions, garlic, aloe vera, scallions, chives. They help to keep healthy cells in the body from being damaged by free radicals.

Grapes, strawberries, cranberries, nuts, blackberries, raspberries. Phytochemicals found: Ellagic acid. It has been big in the news lately. Appears to make blood less likely to clot; therefore is beneficial in preventing heart disease.

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Citrus fruits. Phytochemical found: Monoterpenes. May help to prevent cancer . Also found are isoflavones and saponins, which have a wide range of benefits, including lowering the risk for heart disease.

The Aloe Vera Gel drinks – Berry Nectar, Bits n Peaches, Pomesteen Power, Argi Plus, Forever Kids, Absorbent C, Supergreens, Fields of Greens, Lycium Plus, Immublend, Forever Daily, Vitolize Men and Women – are all excellent sources of these phytonutrients.


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Mrs Chima Ejimofor is lead partner at Infinite Health Consult, and is available for the purchase of FLP nutritional supplements, health talks and wellness seminars. She is based in Lagos, Nigeria. Telephone/WhatsApp: 07033179632, email:












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