Phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many plants. Science is only beginning to really study this family of compounds, of which there may be more than 10,000 and many are suspected of being able to positively affect diseases and body injuries. Most antioxidants are phytochemicals.
Taxol, a cancer-fighting drug, is derived from the Pacific yew tree. Lycopene, from tomatoes, is another phytochemical that is said to have cancer fighting benefits, in this case against prostate cancer.
While scientific studies of many phytochemicals are not advanced enough in most cases to constitute “proof,” millions of people are already ingesting them in the form of nutraceuticals or their natural form. Fruits like blueberries, strawberries, apples and cherries carry these beneficial phytochemicals, but getting enough fruit to maximize the benefit can sometimes be difficult.
The nutraceutical and food industries have been extracting and concentrating these compounds from fruits and vegetables using various chemical extraction methods, but a Summerland company has developed a newer, much more environmentally friendly way.
Dr. Giuseppe Mazza, who is a retired researcher from the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, has invented a process that uses temperature and pressure controlled water to extract these chemicals.
Mazza’s startup company, Mazza Innovation (www.mazzainnovation.com), has already received a total of $475,000 in investments from the federal government through its Agricultural Innovation Program and the GreenAngel Energy Corp. investment company.