Dlaczego warto uwzględniać metabolity roślinne w codziennej diecie?

Why is it worth including plant metabolites in your daily diet?

Today we will devote our attention to a special topic. We will learn what exactly plant metabolites are and their types and importance for health. And that's still not all, so be sure to read on to find out what other nutritional news we have prepared especially for you. Here we go!

Plant metabolites – what are these compounds?

Let us break this concept down to make it easier for you to understand. Metabolites are nothing else than organic and inorganic compounds that are produced by cells and are a product of metabolism . However, the process of their formation takes place not only in human organisms, but also in plants, and this is the issue we will devote our meeting to today. So there's no point in delaying, let's move on.

Before we tell you what types of plant metabolites there are, it would be good to mention at least a word about their functions, and among them we can distinguish:

  • energy storage,
  • regulation of the growth process,
  • conducting communication between cells
  • or defense against pests.

As you can see, these perhaps inconspicuous chemical compounds can really do a lot. What's more, they are not only extremely valuable for plants, but also for us - which you will learn more about later in the text. Now we will deal with the issue of categorizing plant metabolites, so let's get started!

Primary and secondary metabolites of plants

To get started, all you need to know is one simple relationship. Plant primary metabolites are, in short, basic substances responsible for performing physiological functions. When it comes to secondary compounds, when we write about them, we mean metabolic products. We can now move on to more precise categorization.

As we have discussed, plant primary metabolites have significant physiological significance. The functions they perform include energy, construction and backup functions. We have also prepared a short list of examples of these compounds for you, and they are:

  • carbohydrates,
  • fats,
  • proteins, including enzymes
  • amino acids,
  • and chlorophyll.

Primary metabolites are substances that are necessary for the life of a plant, without them it could not develop, germinate or maintain its beautiful green color.

So let's now take a closer look at secondary plant metabolites. They constitute the so-called bioactive substances that do not perform any nutritional functions. What are they for then? We already advise you - their role remains invaluable, because they protect, for example, against diseases and pest attacks. Secondary metabolites are substances that make plants competitive in their own environment. These small molecules exert a wide range of effects on the plant itself and other living organisms. They also cause flowering, fruit set and maintain long-term growth. They act as antimicrobial agents and act as attractants or, conversely, as repellents.

Over 50,000 secondary metabolites have been discovered in the plant kingdom. Medicinal herbs and many modern drugs base their action on secondary plant metabolites. They have been described as antibiotics, antifungals and antivirals, so they are able to protect plants against pathogens. In addition, they are important compounds that absorb UV radiation, thus preventing serious damage to leaves under the influence of light.

Interestingly, secondary metabolites are not found in every plant, but only in certain specific groups. When it comes to examples of these substances, we can distinguish:

  • saponins,
  • carotenoids,
  • phytoestrogens,
  • flavonoids,
  • polyphenols
  • alkaloids,
  • steroids,
  • minerals and vitamins,
  • as well as essential oils.

Apparently, now is the right time to think more deeply about the properties of plant metabolites. And finally, where else can you find such an accessible dose of knowledge presented in a friendly form, if not here - in a familiar group of lovers of a healthy lifestyle? So please continue reading, it will really get even more interesting.

Plant metabolites - examples of the most valuable properties

Describing the unique health benefits of specific substances is probably one of our favorite moments of every trip. After all, it is very exciting to be able to sail into unknown waters with you and guide you in the vastness of new knowledge about our body.

So far, we have already learned together what functions metabolites perform for the plants themselves. In addition, we also learned the main division into primary and secondary substances. What else should be mentioned? Surely, just like us, you are looking forward to the relationship between plant metabolites and our health. Therefore, we will not keep you in suspense any longer, let's get to the point.

The role of plant metabolites in human bodies is also very interesting and has a truly valuable health-promoting potential, which we will take a closer look at in a moment. I wonder if you expect any specific action. First, we will focus on the antioxidant properties of plant metabolites .

In this particular example, we certainly couldn't do without a reference to carotenoids. They are secondary plant metabolites that have special anti-cancer properties. Lycopene or β-carotene consumed in the diet has been associated with a reduced risk of many types of cancer, including prostate, breast, lung, colon, endometrium, ovary, cervix, pancreas, and stomach. Therefore, increasing your intake of these carotenoids is particularly beneficial for reducing the risk of cancer. Therefore, these substances deserve our gratitude.

When considering secondary plant metabolites, we would also like to emphasize that they also influence the antioxidant effects of vitamins A, C and E, further strengthening their properties. This is undoubtedly another great news for everyone who is looking for newer ways to reduce the harmful effects of free radicals on the body.

When it comes to plant ingredients supporting the immune system, this is a category to which we could successfully include polyphenols. What are these compounds and how much can they do? We could write about this for a long time, but let's focus on the most important aspects for us. Polyphenols primarily have antiviral, antibacterial and even antifungal properties. Polyphenols have been shown to enhance anti-cancer immune activity, as well as immunomodulatory processes and the immunity of the intestinal mucosa. As an additional health treat, we would like to point out three more specific functions of polyphenols, namely:

  • sealing blood vessels,
  • protection of the heart muscle
  • and lowering blood pressure.

The use of plant metabolites in natural medicine is still a very broad topic that can be constantly explored. We want to give you the most important essence of this issue, so it's time for one more small addition from us.

The unique health properties of the substances discussed today, and more specifically phytosterols, include such positive effects as: regulation of blood glucose levels . This action is very important in the prevention of diabetes, so it is worth keeping it in the back of your mind.

Plant compounds and disease prevention - the next time you come across such a combination, you will know that it is absolutely not accidental. It is wonderful that nature has given us such benefits. Now it's time to play our role, so we wholeheartedly encourage you to continue learning more about the valuable, health-promoting properties of our beloved plants. However, before we say goodbye, it's time to discuss one more important issue, which is a balanced diet based on plant metabolites. So let's hit the road, let's go through the last stage of our journey today.

Plant metabolites in food – where to look for them?

Phytochemicals (another term for plant metabolites) are a truly large treasury of valuable health properties, as we discovered together in the previous stage of our meeting. Now it's time to organize the acquired knowledge and provide you with probably the most awaited information - namely - in which food to look for the substances discussed today.

A diet rich in plant metabolites and a healthy lifestyle

As you may have already guessed, using valuable nutritional substances and including them in your diet can have many advantages. So let's determine what foods contain plant metabolites. We have prepared a short list for you below with some examples.

  • Carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins - this is where you will find carotenoids, an example is beta-carotene with anti-aging properties.
  • Legumes, cocoa, berries, herbs, tea, spices, nuts - are a source of polyphenols and have an antioxidant effect on the body.
  • Alfalfa sprouts – contain phytoestrogens, which, among others: prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.
  • Chickpeas and other legumes are examples of foods containing primary metabolites, e.g. protein, which is the building block of our muscles.

Of course, the list of ingredients could be much longer, but you always have to start somewhere. We have already gained a solid piece of knowledge and we believe that we have managed to enrich your nutritional competences today. We wish you a lot of success on your wonderful dietary path and we are very happy that we can walk it with you.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7123774/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388198120300056
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5925142/
  4. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-16-4779-6_12
  5. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/plant-secondary-metabolites-and-gut-health-the-case-for-phenolic-acids/70A2BF0418663808D4345BFDED69DBCF
  6. https://wydawnictwo.pttz.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/12_Zdunczyk.pdf
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