The interest in phytochemicals found in plant foods as bioactive components of the diet has expanded in the last few years. This is because they have been linked with the prevention or reduced progression of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases. Oxidative stress, which could bring about oxidative damage to DNA, protein and lipids has been found to be a major factor in the aetiology of these diseases. Epidemiological evidence shows that observed health benefits of these plant foods on humans, especially fruits and vegetables, are due to the presence of bioactive phytochemicals which today, play an important role in pharmaceutical applications. Research shows that these compounds modulate the risk of chronic disease development by inhibiting reactions mediated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Consequently, strong recommendations for their ingestion through the diet have become increasingly popular to improve man’s health. This article presents a review of the role of nutraceuticals, functional foods and value added food products in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. We also summarized the biotechnological approaches for enhancing the level of these bioactive compounds in plants, with a view to improve their nutraceutical value and phytotherapy efficiency.
Key words: Antioxidants, degenerative diseases, dietary reference intakes, disease prevention, nutraceuticals.
BSS, β-sitosterol; BSSG, β-sitosterolglucoside; CHD, Coronary Heart Disease; CLA, conjugated linoleic acid; CNS, central nervous system; Co Q10, Coenzyme Q10; CVDs, cardiovascular diseases; DHA, docosahexaenoic acid; EFSA, European Food Safety Authority; DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone; DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid; DRI, Dietary Reference Intakes; EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid; FAO, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; FDA, Food and Drug Administration; FOSHU, Foods for Specified Health Use; GSPE, Grape Seed Proanthocyanidin Extract; HDL, high density lipoprotein; ILSI, International Life Sciences Institute; LDL-C, low density lipoprotein-cholesterol; MIA, Malnutrition Inflammation and Atherosclerosis; MICS, Malnutrition Inflammation Complex Syndrome; NCDs, Non-Communicable Diseases; PUFAs, polyunsaturated fatty acids; ROS, reactive Oxygen Species; WHO, World Health Organization.
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