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Bioactive Substances of Plant Origin

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Plant secondary metabolites are rich sources of bioactive compounds eliciting many beneficial health effects in man and animals. Plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes, may contain hundreds of different phytochemicals. Recently, research on phytochemicals suggests their possibility as an important source of therapeutic and preventive agents against diseases. The types of foods containing these bioactive components are those functional foods that can provide desirable health benefits beyond their natural properties when consumed in a regular and consistent manner through diet. Alternatively, dietary supplements can be supplied to consumers in a concentrated form to deliver a specific bioactive phytochemical or a group of phytochemicals. Usually, these nutraceutical ingredients are administered with higher doses than in normal food or in a medicinal form with the purpose of improving human health. This chapter highlights the four most common groups of plant-derived bioactive components, polyphenols, alkaloids, terpenes, and saponins, mainly focusing on their chemistry, sources, and biological functions.




Zhao, Y., Wu, Y. Z., & Wang, M. (2015). Bioactive Substances of Plant Origin. In Handbook of Food Chemistry (pp. 967–1008). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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