Plant Phenolics as Antioxidants

Teas would not be much good without natural phenolics, and volumes have been written about the antioxidant properties of phenolics in teas, grapes (especially the skins), cranberries, and blueberries, and vegetables such as broccoli, onions, spinach, and kale. Dietary supplements of plant-derived phenolics are prevalent, and reported to function at least in part as antioxidants. In this capacity, they are presumed to react with, and deactivate, free radicals (a molecule containing an unpaired electron). Free radicals can cause cellular damage by oxidizing lipid, protein, and nucleic acids. Thus, the neutralization of free radicals by natural phenolics that have antioxidant properties is presumed to be the molecular basis for at least some of their health benefits.

Phenolics such as caffeic acid, phenethyl ester, and curcumin significantly lower the rate of tumor formation in intestinal tumor-susceptible mice.

Turmeric (ginger family) is widely used as a spice in curries and contains large quantities of the phenolic, curcumin. Curcumin has antitumor, antioxidant, anti-amyloid, and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin and its derivatives also can correct at least some of the protein-folding defects associated with the most common form of cystic fibrosis.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) produces a flavonoid complex known as silymarin; silybin, the most abundant and bioactive component, has strong antioxidant properties. It has been reported to reduce liver damage caused by ingesting the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), possibly by competitively binding to membrane receptors that otherwise would be available to the fungal toxins, amanititin and phalloidin.

Efforts are underway to genetically engineer plants to produce greater quantities of potentially beneficial phenolics.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Berry Boosters

Berry Boosters

Acai, Maqui And Many Other Popular Berries That Will Change Your Life And Health. Berries have been demonstrated to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Each month or so it seems fresh research is being brought out and new berries are being exposed and analyzed for their health giving attributes.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment