What Are Phytochemicals & Zoochemicals?

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Healthy Diet Planning Guidelines: Nutrients & Food Groups

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Phytochemicals & Zoochemicals
  • 1:13 Phytochemical Benefits
  • 2:20 Phytochemical Examples
  • 3:53 Zoochemicals
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Research on the health benefits of phytochemicals is giving us more reasons to eat our fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals are natural chemicals found in plant foods that provide health benefits. Zoochemicals are their animal-based cousins.

Phytochemicals & Zoochemicals

Many people are cautious about eating processed foods because they don't want to consume the added chemicals contained in these foods. But did you know that even the freshest foods contain natural chemicals? I'm talking about phytochemicals and zoochemicals. Unlike man-made food compounds, these nature-made chemicals provide your body with many health benefits.

The prefix 'phyto' means plants, so it's not surprising that the term phytochemicals means natural chemicals found in plant-based foods. And the prefix 'zoo' refers to animals, making this an easy term to recall as well. Zoochemicals are natural chemicals found in animal-based foods. These food components are not the traditional nutrients we think of when we study nutrition. They're not vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins or fats. However, like the traditional nutrients, phytochemicals and zoochemicals benefit our bodies. In this lesson, we will learn about these natural compounds and the health benefits that come from consuming them.

Phytochemical Benefits

Let's start by looking at phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are not only pleasing to your body; they're also pleasing to your eye. They're the compounds that give fruits and vegetables their rich, vibrant colors. For example, anthocyanins are phytochemicals that give strawberries, cherries, blueberries and plums their rich colors; and carotenoids give carrots their orange color. We see from these examples that different colors are produced by different phytochemicals. We also know that brighter colors tend to mean more phytochemicals are contained in the food. So, it's a good idea to eat a rainbow of plant-foods every day.

The research into phytochemicals is somewhat new, so the full extent of their benefits might not yet be recognized. However, it is generally thought that phytochemicals act as antioxidants, which protect the body from free radical damage. They also provide protection against cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Phytochemical Examples

There are thousands of different phytochemicals. Let's take a look at a couple of examples and the foods that contain them. We already identified anthocyanins as the compounds that give certain fruits their rich red and blue colors. They belong to a group of phytochemicals known for their antioxidant properties, called flavonoids.

You might have heard that flavonoids are found in red wine. This revelation has caused some people to declare red wine a modern-day health food. Flavonoids can also be found in a variety of plant foods, such as berries, spices, certain vegetables and darker beans, like black and kidney beans. Their antioxidant activity slows the aging process and prevents inflammation caused by free radical damage.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account