Difference Between Phytochemicals And Antioxidants

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Phytochemicals and antioxidants are both chemical elements present in a variety of sources. These food micronutrients can then have positive impacts on your health and body depending on how you consume them and in what quantities.

There are several kinds of phytochemicals and antioxidants that serve different purposes in our bodies. You can also obtain and consume these micronutrients from a variety of sources.

While the two may sound similar (and do, in fact, share a few similarities), there are quite a few differences between them that you should be aware of.

Difference Between Phytochemicals And Antioxidants

Phytochemicals and antioxidants have a few criteria between them that can help you distinguish between the two. You can go through these criteria below.


Antioxidants tend to originate from both natural and artificial or synthetic sources. In this sense, you can glean these micronutrients from several kinds of food sources that are both plant based and animal based, allowing you a greater variety to choose from.

On the other hand, phytochemicals are present only in certain kinds of plants and their derivatives. These can not only boost plant health but are also believed to boost animal health, including that of humans.

Health Benefits for Anti Aging

Phytochemicals and antioxidants are both beneficial to your health, having significant impacts on your body and improving and supporting the function of numerous parts of the human body.

For instance, antioxidants mainly serve the function of neutralizing or stopping the free radicals in your body, thereby allowing your cells to function better and strengthen their defence against dangerous external cells and elements. This can then help prevent the risk of chronic diseases.

On the other hand, phytochemicals can help improve conditions like cholesterol levels, improve eye health, work against cancer and reduce the risk of diabetes.


There are several different types of antioxidants and phytochemicals, some of which may overlap or have properties of both.

When it comes to antioxidants, the main types of nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids, lipoic acid, phenolic acids, zinc and selenium, among others. These can help with regeneration, protection and detoxification.

difference between phytochemicals and antioxidants

On the other hand, the types of phytochemicals mainly include carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, polyphenols, phytosterols and glucosinolates, among others. These can aid the body in several functions, although the role of polyphenols is not yet fully clear.

Potential Harm

Despite the numerous suggested health benefits of antioxidants and phytochemicals, there is a potential risk of consuming too much of either, especially since your body does not usually require them in large quantities.

Of course, how harmful they are can depend. For instance, antioxidants generally have more benefits than harm if consumed through natural foods while their supplements tend to be a bit riskier, especially since they can interfere with certain other functions.

Phytochemicals, however, can be even more harmful since not enough is known about them. While they have benefits, taking them in large amounts can result in harm.

Other Uses

Phytochemicals and antioxidants also differ from each other in terms of the other uses and functions that they can provide. Phytochemicals are mainly just used for the sake of consumption through food and/or supplements while antioxidants have numerous other uses.

For instance, they have several technological and industrial uses since they can be used as food preservatives, for polymerization reduction in fuel and lubricants as well as additives in a range of substances like oils, grease, wax, cosmetics and more.

Such antioxidants can also go a long way in minimizing the amount of waste produced when it comes to certain materials.


How exactly do external factors affect phytochemicals and antioxidants in terms of their structure and function? Which one of them holds up better under this kind of pressure?

Phytochemicals generally have the ability to endure and sometimes resist tough conditions and external factors.

On the other hand, antioxidants are usually weaker in terms of how they hold up against external conditions and factors. For instance, elements like oxygen, varying temperature conditions, too much heat and light can break the antioxidants down through the chemical reactions taking place.

This can then also reduce the positive impacts that they can otherwise have on our health.


There are numerous sources that you can rely on to be rich in antioxidants. These are mainly foods that you should consume regularly and in healthy amounts.

Examples of such food sources include pecans, berries, dark chocolate, broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, tea, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, seafood, meat, kale, artichokes, beans, spinach, cabbage, beets, red wine, corn, nuts and lots more.

difference between phytochemicals and antioxidants

Phytochemicals also have a wide range of food sources (only plant based) such as carrots, spinach, grains, flaxseed, cauliflower, broccoli, tea, berries, lemons, oranges, tomatoes, parsley, grapefruit, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cereals, legumes and more.


Since there are many overlaps between the food sources that contain phytochemicals and antioxidants, these chemicals can interact well with each other and lead to several benefits for your body.

However, if you happen to take these chemicals through supplements, then this might cause harm to your health since they might interfere with your medications, rendering them ineffective.

Difference Between Phytochemicals And Antioxidants: Summing Up

Phytochemicals and antioxidants are similar in terms of many of their sources and functions, but there are numerous differences between them due to their origin, types, other applications, breakdown potentials and also in terms of some other food options and benefits to your overall health.

Rosemary Richards