N° 94 | November 2014

« An updating on Antioxidants and F&V consumption »


Ongoing studies continue to establish consensual relationships between diet and health with particular emphasis on the benefi cial role of fruits and vegetables (F&V) on decreasing risks of diverse pathologies (cancers, osteoporosis, glaucoma and obesity-related physiopathology) together with improvements of biological functions (vascular response, blood pressure, grip strength, immunity).

F&V have been sequentially seen as providers of bioactive compounds such as fi bres, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and phytochemicals including carotenoids and more recently the polyphenols. As oxidative stress is associated with the pathogenesis of diseases and, since most of these compounds have potential to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, oxidant-antioxidant balance has been hypothetically considered a basis to explain the benefi cial role of F&V.

However, many studies on the health potential of these bioactives are based on particular design including experimental models metabolically far from human physiological situations and administration of pharmacological rather than nutritional levels, far from usual dietary conditions. As a result, none of clinical studies administering bioactives out of the food matrix, has proven their effi ciency as curative compounds on at-risk individuals, even increasing the mortality as seen with ATBC and CARET studies. Therefore the causal relation between F&V and health cannot be only linked to the biological properties of each of these nutrients but rather as a complex mixture interacting between them and with the other metabolites engendered by the diet and the lifestyle of the individuals. Fortunately, experimental approach of complex systems is within reach through the high throughput or “omics” technologies and with some convincing results. Thus, the “food metabolome” or what is emerging as “personalized nutrition” will bring a holistic vision of the interest of F&V in prolonging “healthy life years” of the consumers.

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