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Bioactive Compounds from Fruits and Vegetables

Bioactive Compounds from Fruits and Vegetables
Man holding plate of fruit and vegetables
© IMDEA

Cabronell et al., (2014) published a paper, ‘Analytical Methods for Determining Bioavailability and Bioaccessibility of Bioactive Compounds from Fruits and Vegetables: A Review’ which will explore here.

Nowadays, consumers are more aware of the benefits provided by food and food compounds. In general, vegetables contain many phytochemicals which possess many beneficial activities like antioxidant, regulators of enzymes, and impact on gene expression. Between the compounds which exhibit multiple health benefits, are vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E) and other bioactive compounds (carotenoids, phenolic compounds, glucosinolates). These activities could contribute to reduce the risk to develop a chronic disease. In general, dietary phytochemicals are classified based on their solubility properties: water-soluble (e.g., phenolics and polyphenols) and lipid-soluble (e.g., carotenoids).

Despite the powerful activities of phytochemicals, in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract many bioactive compounds may be modified reducing its potential beneficial effects, interact with other compounds affecting phytochemical bioavailabilty, or unable to be released from the food matrix to be available to be absorbed and reach the systemic circulation.

Once the phytochemicals reach the body, the Interest in the biological activities and resultant health benefits from phytochemical-rich foods has generated great interest in the elucidation of factors that impact their bioavailability. Food preparation and cooking influence the nutritional qualities of foods, and potentially their health benefits. These processes can have beneficial effects, for example by improving the digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients, and by enhancing attractiveness to the consumer because of improved texture and taste, and also deleterious effects due to loss of nutrients or the formation of toxic compounds.

It is important to identify food factors (macro- and microcomposition, physical form, phytochemical concentration, etc.) and physiological factors (stability, digestion, absorption, metabolism, distribution, and excretion processes) that can limit or promote bioavailability. More recently, the impact of health status on the absorption and metabolism of dietary phytochemicals has drawn increased attention as modification of bioavailability may complicate translation of potential benefits from these compounds to at-risk populations.

There has been growing interest in the utilization of phytochemicals in functional foods, supplements, and pharmaceuticals. However, despite many of these bioactive phytochemicals are claimed to promote human health and wellbeing by preventing or treating certain diseases, phytochemical use is still limited by low solubility, stability, and bioavailability. To increase their transference, most of the phytochemicals needs to be encapsulated. This will assure that food incorporation really will produce a beneficial effect.

What we would like you to do

Please reflect on this article and share your thoughts in the comments section below:

  • Do you think new food formulations are important for improve the food quality?
  • What ingredients do you already associate with “bioactive ingredients”?
© IMDEA
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