Phytochemistry is the study of chemicals obtained from plants. These chemicals are referred to as phytochemicals. The role of this study is to describe structures of large metabolites in plants and their functions in human and plant anatomy. However, you cannot understand the context behind phytochemistry from a layman’s perspective. That is why this article breaks down five essential facts about it.
Overall Benefit to Good Health
Since the olden ages, a significant proportion of medicinal properties were obtained from plants and herbs. Nonetheless, it is still the contemporary situation in the present world. Several research studies have provided a testament to phytochemicals. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, contain a remarkable number of phytochemicals. They play a protective role in promoting protective health benefits for well-being.
Also, they get embraced with the prevention of eminent diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegeneration. Other crop varieties such as tea, cocoa, and wine from grapes also get associated with phytochemistry.
Relationship with Other Sciences
Controversies have existed concerning the placement of phytochemistry in the science field. Some have considered it as a subspeciality of chemistry and botany. Also, there have been speculations that it should get composed in food and medicinal chemistry due to its vast drug sector applications.
However, it stands out as a pillar for many biosciences, making it impossible to rule it out as a single franchise. For example, Botany, Taxonomy, Ethnobotany, Plants Genetic, Conservation Biology, Plant Pathology, and Evolutionary Sciences all have a basement on phytochemistry. Hence, the knowledge of phytochemistry is essential in the application of various fields.
Classification of phytochemicals
They occur in large numbers with an estimation of tens of thousands. This vast and dynamic existence has made it difficult to establish a discrete classification system. However, a simple classification system has been set up based on chemical composition. It involves six significant categories: lipids, carbohydrates, phenolics, alkaloids, terpenoids, and other nitrogen-containing compounds.
Additionally, they have an active role in taxonomic classification. They are based on chemical properties and deploy visible particles (crystals, raphides, and starch granules), primary metabolites, and secondary metabolites.
Sources of Phytochemicals
There are many potential sources of these vital elements: fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, whole grains, trees, shrubs, and herbs. Phytochemicals are found in different plant locations and also with varying concentrations.
Some of these parts include leaves, fruits, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and seeds. Other living organisms such as fungi synthesize the chemicals, though the criteria of synthesis may differ.
However, as much as the chemicals are available in our daily diets, it is recommended that you consume five to nine servings of fruits or vegetables.
Their Purposes in Living Things
Phytochemicals have a nebulous mode of accomplishing their various functions. However, they still contest in performing several roles in the existence of living things. These include but not limited to:
- They are involved in the stimulation of the immune system.
- Harmonization of detoxifying enzymes that aid in the cellular metabolism of substances.
- Play a crucial role in the aggregation of platelets. It is vital in preventing the clumping together of platelets, which aid in blood clotting.
- Active agents are involved in escalating anti-inflammatory functions. It happens by blocking certain substances that cause inflammation. This is essential in mitigating pain, swelling, and redness.
- Boosting of antioxidants that aids in preventing damage of vital biomolecules such as proteins, fats, and nucleic acid.
- Enhance physiological functions such as altering the activity of pathogens towards bidding with cell receptors.
Also, other than medicinal and health benefits, phytochemicals have been incorporated in various industry sectors. They include cosmetics, food supplements, and fragrance.