Nutrients versus phytonutrients versus phytochemicals?

what's healthiest for my body?

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A:

Nutrients
Essential dietary factors such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. Metabolic fuels (sources of energy) are not termed nutrients so that a commonly used phrase is ‘energy and nutrients’.

Phytonutrients
A nonnutritive bioactive plant substance, such as a flavonoid or carotenoid, considered to have a beneficial effect on human health. Also called phytonutrient.

A member of a wide range of chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may have beneficial effects on human health. Phytochemicals are biologically very active. They include antioxidants, phyto-oestrogens, and compounds that modify potential toxins and carcinogens. In plants, they are not involved in photosynthesis, respiration, or protein synthesis, but they may function as attractants for pollinating insects or repellants against insect pests. Some phytochemicals are known to have medically important effects. Isoflavanoids from soya beans, for example, may reduce the risk of cancers induced by excessive intakes of synthetic oestrogen (see oestrogen). Allicin, a component of garlic, may offer some protection against heart disease. In 1989, the National Cancer Institute started a multi-million dollar project that includes the study of phytochemicals. It is likely that many new phytochemicals will be discovered which have an important effect on human health and disease.

Phytochemical
A nonnutritive bioactive plant substance, such as a flavonoid or carotenoid, considered to have a beneficial effect on human health. Also called phytonutrient.

A member of a wide range of chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that may have beneficial effects on human health. Phytochemicals are biologically very active. They include antioxidants, phyto-oestrogens, and compounds that modify potential toxins and carcinogens. In plants, they are not involved in photosynthesis, respiration, or protein synthesis, but they may function as attractants for pollinating insects or repellants against insect pests. Some phytochemicals are known to have medically important effects. Isoflavanoids from soya beans, for example, may reduce the risk of cancers induced by excessive intakes of synthetic oestrogen (see oestrogen). Allicin, a component of garlic, may offer some protection against heart disease. In 1989, the National Cancer Institute started a multi-million dollar project that includes the study of phytochemicals. It is likely that many new phytochemicals will be discovered which have an important effect on human health and disease.


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