Definition: Compounds in plants (apart from vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients) that have a beneficial effect the body. There are over 10,000 of them, and they have effects such as antioxidant, boosting the immune system, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and cellular repair. Highly colored vegetables and fruits tend to be highest in these chemicals, but tea, chocolate, nuts, flax seeds, and olive oil are all excellent sources as well. Various families of plants tend towards certain families of phytonutrients, for example, orange foods tend to have the caretenoid group.
Pronunciation: fy toe NOO tree ents; fy toe KEM i kels
Also Known As: Phytochemicals and phytonutrients are used interchangeably. They sometimes incorrectly called "antioxidants" as a group.
Common Misspellings: phytonutrents
The lycopene in tomatoes and pink grapefruit, the anthocyanins in berries, and the flavanoids in chocolate are all examples of beneficial phytonutrients. Many phytonutrient groups (e.g. flavanoids and lignins) fall into a larger group called polyphenols.