Right from the ancient times , there are enormous Health benefits of phyto-nutrients. Studies have found that certain chemicals other than nutritional principles in them have anti-mutagenic, free radical scavenging and immunity boosting functions, which help promote health and prevent diseases, apart from their nutritive value.

Phytonutrients are present abundantly in the plant world. Examples include:
Phyto-sterols (plant sterols)
Non-digestible (non-starch) carbohydrates such as tannins, pectin, cellulose, mucilage, etc.
Natural acids
Enzymes and lecithin

Studies suggest that cancers occur due to a series of mutational events occurring at the cellular level triggered by free-oxygen radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). These free radicals have the ability to damage cell’s DNA, cell membrane and proteins like ion channels, receptors, etc. Antioxidants by virtue of their reduction potentials can bind to oxidation radicals at these levels interrupt free-radical injury by reversing or limiting the extent of damage. Several groups of antioxidants have been identified such as poly-phenolic flavonoids, anthocyanins, etc. Examples of certain anti-oxidants in fruits and vegetables include:
Carotenes in mangoes, carrots, spinach, oregano, etc
Lycopene in tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelons, etc
Resveratrol in grapes, berries, peanuts, etc
Anthocyanins in chokeberry, broccoli, kale, etc
Anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin A, E and C in large number of herbs, vegetables, and fruits

Plant sterols
Plant sterols also known as phyto-sterols constitute mainly beta-sitosterol, however, differ in function than human sterols like cholesterol. They are poorly absorbed by humans and in the process, appear to block the absorption of dietary cholesterol as well; and thus help reduce blood LDL cholesterol levels.
Initial research studies have been found that experimental doses of plant sterols can be effective in countering the effects of testosterone-mediated hypertrophy in prostate glands. Again, they help minimize the risk of BPH and prostate cancer in men. Their effects in women, however, are found to be neutral or some beneficial effect on breast, uterine and ovarian receptors.

Non-digestible carbohydrates, natural acids and enzymes
The other phytochemicals include detoxifying agents like indoles, isothiocyanates, non- starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary-fiber like gums, hemicellulose, mucilage, pectin, tannins, and alkaloids likecaffeine and non-protein amino acids. NSP or dietary fiber increase bulk to the food and helps prevent constipation by decreasing gastro-intestinal transit time. They also bind toxins in the food, prevent their absorption, and help protect the colon mucus membrane from cancers. In addition, dietary fibers bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption, thus help lower serum LDL cholesterol levels.

In conclusion, phytonutrients provide the crucial links between health and nutrition. A well-balanced food that is rich in phytonutrients such as fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables can help minimize free radical and reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediated diseases.

No wonder, herbs are often been used & worshipped all over.