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Functional Foods, Nutraceuticals, and Degenerative Disease Prevention

Functional Foods, Nutraceuticals, and Degenerative Disease Prevention edited by Gopinadhan Paliyath, Marica Bakovic, and Kalidas Shetty. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell; 2011. Hardcover, 424 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8138-2453-6. $199.95.

This book is a compilation of 15 chapters contributed by a number of scientists, mainly from Canada and the United States. It describes various so-called “functional foods” and nutraceuticals and their mechanisms of action in promoting health and reducing disease risk. The authors discuss in detail the biochemistry, molecular biology, and nutritional genomics along with relevant signal transduction and gene expression of the disease-preventive process, of a wide range of foods, herbal products, and spices. Each chapter is complemented with a current bibliography that allows the reader to consult original sources of information in the book. Although regulation of functional foods and nutraceuticals has been mentioned, this is rather cursory in nature. What follows are detailed reviews of each chapter.

The first chapter, “Functional Foods, Nutraceuticals, and Disease Prevention: A Window to the Future of Health Promotion,” is written by two of the editors, Gopinadhan Paliyath, PhD, and Kalidas Shetty, PhD. While disease prevention might be an overly optimistic view, disease risk reduction is achievable. The contents describe the effects of lifestyle changes on health and socioeconomic burdens of chronic degenerative diseases. The authors also take the traditional route of recommending fruits and vegetables for promoting health.

Chapter 2, “Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals,” written by Chung-Ja C. Jackson, PhD, and Dr. Paliyath, defines the terms and provides examples of functional foods that comprises a long list of plant-based materials, herbals, cereals, seeds, spices, herbal products, and certain fruits and vegetables as well as fish oils, wine, and dairy-based products. The bioactives responsible for health-promoting aspects of functional foods and their effects on specific conditions such as cardiovascular decline, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease are also covered, and this section extends the discussion to the selected food categories noted above.

Chapter 3 focuses on nutritional genomics with respect to the “Fundamental Role of Diet in Chronic Disease Prevention and Control,” and is written by Amy J. Tucker, PhD, Branden Deschambalt, and Marica Bakovic. It discusses nutrigenetics as well as complexities of research in this area for chronic diseases, with some emphasis on cardiovascular ailments and cancers, as well as the effects of phytochemicals — including phytoestrogens and polyphenols —and selected vitamins, carbohydrates, and lipids. The unique role of phytochemicals in nutritional genomics as therapeutic agents is emphasized.

Chapter 4, “Nutraceuticals and Antioxidant Function,” is authored by Denise Young, Rong Tsao, PhD, and Yoshinori Mine, PhD. They discuss oxidative stress and the role of endogenous and exogenous reactive oxygen species. Defense against the deleterious effects of such events is covered in relation to antioxidative defense systems. Both endogenous antioxidant enzymes and exogenous dietary antioxidants such as polyphenols, amides, and carotenoids — and their mechanisms of action — are included. Assays related to antioxidant evolution, health benefits of antioxidants, and challenges experienced in the evaluation of antioxidants to demonstrate efficacy are thoroughly discussed. The section is well-referenced.

Chapter 5, “Composition and Chemistry of Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals: Influence on Bioaccessibility and Bioavailability,” by Jissy K. Jacob and Dr. Paliyath, again covers polyphenols as antioxidants, but this time in relation to their bioaccessibility and bioavailability. This is an important topic that focuses on the amount/proportion of potentially absorbable forms of bioactives from the gastrointestinal tract and the amounts actually absorbed into the body, the latter being influenced considerably by the food matrix. Thus, the performance of micro- and ultrastructural analyses are vital; the role of dietary polyphenols with specific reference to juices and their role in health promotion is also covered.

The sixth chapter, “Cruciferous Vegetables – Derived Isothiocyanates and Cancer Prevention,” is written by Ravi P. Sahu, PhD, and Sanjay K. Srivastava, PhD. Glucosinolates or thioglucosides are broken down into isothiocyanates and related compounds upon the action of enzymes, and these broken-down products play an important role in the inhibition of different types of cancer. Specifically, this chapter covers cancers of the pancreas, prostate, brain, lung, breast, colon, liver, and bladder, plus ovaries, head and neck, skin, as well as multiple myeloma.

The seventh chapter is written by Rajeev Bhat, PhD, and covers “The Disease-Prevention Potential of Some Popular and Underutilized Seeds.” In particular, the authors discuss certain oilseeds such as those of black cumin (Nigella sativa, Ranunculaceae), sunflower (Helianthus annuus, Asteraceae), groundnut (Apios americana, Fabaceae), sesame (Sesamum indicum, Pedaliaceae), rapeseed (Brassica napus, Brassicaceae), safflower (Carthamus tinctorius, Asteraceae), and flax (Linum usitatissimum, Linaceae) along with spice seeds such as those of coriander (Coriandrum sativum, Apiaceae), caraway (Carum carvi, Apiaceae), black pepper (Piper nigrum, Piperaceae), cumin (Cuminum cyminum, Apiaceae), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum, Fabaceae), and legumes including soybeans (Glycine max, Fabaceae), tamarind (Tamarindus indica, Fabaceae), perilla (Perilla frutescens, Lamiaceae), chive (Allium schoenoprasum, Liliaceae), grape (Vitis vinifera, Vitaceae), pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbitaceae), and horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum, Hippocastanaceae), among others. The chapter emphasizes the importance of identifying and characterizing various bioactives present in these source materials and provides a wealth of references.

In Chapter 8 covers the “Effects of Carotenoids and Retinoids on Immune-Mediated Chronic Inflammation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” (IBD) and was written by Hua Zhang, Ming Fan, PhD, and Dr. Paliyath. The role of carotenoids in the downregulation of IBD is discussed with specific reference to their role in oxidation stress amelioration. Thus, intervention strategies using carotenoids and retinoids are recommended for reducing the symptoms of IBD and other inflammatory diseases.

The ninth chapter, “Ruminant Trans Fat as Potential Nutraceutical Components to Prevent Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease,” is authored by Ye Wang, PhD, Catherine J. Field, PhD, and Spencer D. Proctor, PhD. Conjugated linoleic acid is present in milkfat and is made commercially for vegetable oils. Its role in modulating carcinogenesis has been thoroughly examined and its effect in reducing the incidences of coronary heart disease also has been covered and is expected that they provide excellent opportunities that benefit the health of the population.

Chapter 10, “Nanotechnology for Cerebral Delivery of Nutraceuticals for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases” — by Jasjeet Kaur Sahni, PhD, Sihem Doggui, PhD, Lé Dao, PhD, and Charles Remassamy, PhD — makes an important contribution related to the delivery of bioactive compounds, paying special attention to catechins and curcumin, as well as the red wine compound resveratrol, in controlling oxidative damage. The conclusion section refers to antioxidants as micronutrients, which may be the wrong word choice, but regardless, the role of nanotechnology in better delivery of bioactives is well represented.

Chapter 11, “Cancer Prevention by Polyphenols: Influence on Signal Transduction and Gene Expression,” is written by Fatima Hakimuddin and Dr. Paliyath. This chapter discusses the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of carcinogenesis and emphasizes signaling pathways in breast cancer and methods for its prevention and therapy with emphasis on the use of phytochemicals. Polyphenols have again been discussed, as are the role of grapes, resveratrol, and flavonoids in modulating signaling pathways. Identification of flavonoid-mediated molecular targets and estrogen metabolism and signaling as affected by polyphenols is thoroughly discussed as are bioavailability issues.

Chapter 12, “Potato-Herb Synergies as Food Designs for Hypoglycemic and Hypertension Management,” authored by Saleem Fahad, Ali Hussein Eid, and Dr. Shetty, addresses type 2 diabetes and hypertension and their association with cardiovascular complications, either directly or indirectly. This diet uses phenolic-enriched potato (Solanum tuberosum, Solanaceae) to address concerns with respect to the above health issues and to help in the management of micro- and macrovascular complications, hence reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases associated with type 2 diabetes.

Chapter 13 discusses “Fermentation-Based Processing of Food Botanicals for Mobilizing of Phenolic Phytochemicals for Type 2 Diabetes Management,” and is authored by Chandrakant Ankolekar and Dr. Shetty. The chapter dates the origin of fermentation to 7,000 BCE in China and 5,400 BCE in modern-day Iran. Prevention of food decomposition through acid/alcohol fermentation also is described, and effects on enrichment or release of micro- and macronutrients, aroma, and bioactives are discussed, too. In this chapter, fermentation of fruit juices such as those of apple (Malus spp., Rosaceae), pear (Pyrus spp., Rosaceae), and cherry (Prunus spp., Rosaceae) are presented and the enhanced benefits associated with the release of bound phytochemicals are explained to be a main factor in this regard.

Chapter 14, “Postharvest Strategies to Enhance Bioactive Ingredients for Type 2 Diabetes Management and Heart Health,” is authored by Dipayan Sarkar and Dr. Shetty. The work again discusses similar material, as well as the influence and role of polyphenols in glucose metabolism and cardiovascular disease. It also describes postharvest strategies for enhancing the content of bioactive phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables. Processing, biotechnological, and other strategies are covered. Although these latter chapters are targeted differently, they would have served better if they were integrated in a more meaningful manner.

The final chapter, Chapter 15, “Enhancing Functional Food Ingredients in Fruits and Vegetables,” is authored by Shaila Wadud and Dr. Paliyath. The ingredients of interest include minerals such as iron and zinc, antioxidants such as carotenoids — particularly lycopene and β-carotene — as well as phenolic compounds such as vitamin E, flavonoids and amino acids in proteins, and fatty acid composition of seed oils. Effects of processing on these bioactives are discussed.

In summary, the book provides some highly useful information, but the organization of the book could have been better managed. The book is useful as a reference and beneficial to senior undergraduate and graduate students. Scientists in the field of nutrition and food science also may find it of interest, as well as members of related industries.

—Fereidoon Shahidi, PhD, FACS University Research Professor Memorial University St. John’s, NL, Canada