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Monday, March 6, 2017

Functional components and medicinal properties of food: a scientific review

Abstract (as presented by the authors of the scientific work):

"Research has proved a relationship between functional components of food, health and well-being. Thus, functional components of food can be effectively applied in the treatment and prevention of diseases. They act simultaneously at different or identical target sites with the potential to impart physiological benefits and promotion of wellbeing including reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, inflammation, type II diabetes, and other chronic degenerative diseases, lowering of blood cholesterol, neutralization of reactive oxygen species and charged radicals, anticarcinogenic effect, low-glycaemic response, etc. Previously, it was thought that functional ingredients such as non-starchy carbohydrates including soluble and insoluble dietary fibres, fucoidan; antioxidants including polyphenols, carotenoids, tocopherols, tocotrienols, phytosterols, isoflavones, organosulphur compounds; plant sterols and soy phytoestrogens occur only in plant foods (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) as phytochemicals. However, probiotics, prebiotics, conjugated linolenic acid, long-chain omega-3, -6 and -9-polyunsaturated fatty acids, and bioactive peptides have proved that functional components are equally available in animal products such as milk, fermented milk products and cold-water fish. The way a food is processed affects its functional components. Many processing techniques have been found to lower the concentration of functional components in food. Conversely, other techniques were found to increase them. Hence, in a time when the role of a healthy diet in preventing non-communicable diseases is well accepted, the borderline between food and medicine is becoming very thin."

Covered topics (the letter size corresponds to the frequency of mentioning in the text):

Conclusion (as presented by the authors of the scientific work):

"Clearly, functional components in food will play an important role in health maintenance in the future as a result of their medicinal properties. However, the bioavailability of these functional food components and the levels required in humans are critical factors necessary to optimize health benefits. Current information in this regard is insufficient and hazy. Consequently, there is need to provide consumers with more information to effectively guide them in making wider choices of diets that contain optimal levels of health-promoting functional food components."

Full-text access of the referenced scientific work:

Abuajah CI, Ogbonna AC, Osuji CM. Functional components and medicinal properties of food: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2015 May;52(5):2522-9. doi: 10.1007/s13197-014-1396-5. Review. PubMed PMID: 25892752; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4397330.


Prof. Atanas G. Atanasov (Dr. habil., PhD)

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