Health prospects of phytochemicals in horticultural crops
Tanushree Sahoo, Kaluram
A healthy eating strategy with increased consumption of plant-based foods plays important roles in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and age-related function decline. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring chemicals, other than traditional nutrients, found in plants (fruits, vegetables, grains etc.), which when consumed in food, elicits the responses in the human metabolism, leading to improvement in human health. These bio actives have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anticancerous properties. The anti-carcinogenic effect of polyphenols is attributed to their antioxidant properties, as well as their capability to modulate the activity of enzymes, block hormone receptors and lower the activity of mutagens. Polyphenols also protect blood vessels, reduce the aggregation of blood platelets and lower the LDL-cholesterol level in blood. Therefore, the food basket with diverse horticultural produce will be a boon to enhance nutritional security of our future population.