Functional Foods For Chronic Disease Prevention: Functional foods explain the significance of foods in promoting health and preventing diseases aside from their key role of providing the body with the necessary quantity of essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, and oils needed for its healthy survival. Under this chapter explains the interaction of functional food bioactive compounds including polyphenols (phenolic acids [hydroxybenzoic acids and hydroxycinnamic acids), flavonoids [flavonols, flavones, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, proanthocyanidins), stilbenes, and lignans), terpenoids, carotenoids, alkaloids, omega-3 and polyunsaturated fatty acids, among others with critical enzymes (α-amylase, α-glucosidase, angiotensin-1 converting enzyme (ACE). acetylcholinesterase [ACHE], and arginase) associated to some degenerative diseases (type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases [hypertension], neurodegenerative diseases [Alzheimer’s disease and erectile dysfunction). Diverse functional food bioactive substances may synergistically/additively confer overwhelming protection against these degenerative diseases by modulating/altering the activities of these critical enzymes of physiological importance.
Functional food is a comparatively new term in the area of nutrition but it is gaining interest with nutritionists and consumers alike. The term functional food is clear by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board as “any food or food ingredient that may give a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains.” Some of the naturally occurring chemicals, or substances, that offer the health benefits of functional foods are referred to as phytochemicals.
Various studies are still being conducted to determine the exact role of these food substances in disease prevention. Functional foods have been related to the prevention and/or treatment of the four leading causes of death in the US, which are cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Definite functional foods have also been shown to facilitate memory function. The list of functional foods, their components or phytochemicals, and the health repayment they provide continues to develop. Some examples are:
- Tomatoes and tomato-based products which contain lycopene may help to stop heart disease and cancer of the prostate, colon, bladder, and pancreas
- Broccoli which contains sulforaphane may help avoid breast cancer,
- Soy foods (such as tofu, soy milk, soy flour) contain isoflavones, which may decrease the risk of cancer,
- Oats which contain beta-glucan may diminish the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by lowering blood cholesterol
- Flaxseed and nuts which contain omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of CVD and improve mental and visual functions.
- Fish such as tuna and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of CVD and recover mental and visual function
- Blueberries may decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
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