N° 5 | December 2015

Bioactive components in F&V


Plant dietary products are rich in numerous vital micronutrients- vitamins and mineralsand bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and polyphenols. Their consumption, associated to a better lifestyle, contributes to the well-being and prevention of chronic diseases.

In this series, a focus is done by Prof. Shashirekha on polyphenols, which are particularly abundant in fruits and vegetables. Dietary polyphenols display a large range of compounds with diverse biological activities contributing, certainly altogether, to the health benefi ts ascribed to a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, Vinha and her collaborators reported that polyphenols are submitted to moderate losses during cooking of green vegetables, whereas vitamin C is reduced by about 50% and could reach more than 70% in thin leafy vegetables. Because the retention of polyphenols is higher than vitamin C and carotenoids, it could explain the health benefi ts of Mediterranean-type diets, composed of diverse boiled vegetables. Recommendations for better food practices to avoid micronutrient losses are essential in South Asia, where food insecurity and child malnutrition are prevalent.

Prof. Srinivasan points towards the importance to promote strategies to improve the bioavailability of micronutrients, either by eliminating some plant dietary compounds, such as phytates or oxalates which hinder the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium, or by incorporating ingredients enhancing bioavailability. These fi ndings highlight the impact of food processing and the role of meal complexity on health effects.

See next article