Flavonoids and Carotenoids
The most celebrated nutrients in food plants are flavonoids and carotenoids. These nutrients have great potential when eaten fresh, but when they undergo processing and pasteurization, they degrade rapidly and fail to deliver their promised benefits. It is important to eat them fresh or not at all. Further you want to seek out food plants that contain elements that have a high level of Bioactivity which help promote good health. Specifically those that contain Iridoids.
What are Iridoids?
*Are bioactive phytochemicals that are rarely found in fruits;
*Are different than flavonoids, which are found in all fruits;
*Have a wide range of bioactivities;
*Are very stable and are resistant to degradation during processing and storage, unlike many flavonoids;
Iridoids are bioactive phytochemicals that are rarely found in fruits, are different than flavonoids, which are found in all fruits and have a wide range of bioactivities. Iridoids possess a simple chemical structure that makes them inherently strong in stressful environments. As a result, iridoids retain their chemical composition even when exposed to oxygen, light, and heat--activities that occur during processing and pasteurization that often degrade or break down weaker chemical compounds. The same chemical composition also means that iridoids remain stable over long periods of storage. Iridoids are found in many medicinal plants and may be responsible for the some of their pharmaceutical activities.
What are Flavonoids and Carotenoids?
Flavonoids have antioxidant activity. Flavonoids are becoming very popular because they have many health promoting effects. Some of the activities attributed to flavonoids include: anti-allergic, anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.
Like their better known chemical cousins, the carotenes, flavonoids are plant pigments, creating a rainbow of colors. In addition, many flavonoids and carotenes function as antioxidants and protect plants from damaging free radicals. The big difference is that flavonoids are water soluble, whereas carotenes are oil soluble.
The major dietary sources of flavonoids include fruit and fruit products, tea, and soy. Studies have found that the flavonoids in these foods protect against heart disease and cancer.
Heat, degree of acidity (pH), and degree of processing can have a dramatic impact on the flavonoid content of food. For example, in fresh cut spinach, boiling extracts 50 percent of the total flavonoid content.
- What factors might contribute to a deficiency of flavonoids?
Poor intake of fruits and vegetables - or routine intake of high-processed fruits and vegetables - are common contributing factors to flavonoid deficiency. It is difficult to overemphasize the impact of processing and a non-whole foods diet on flavonoid intake. If the pulpy, fibrous parts of fruits are eliminated from the juice, and the vibrant natural colors of canned vegetables are lost during repeated heating, risk of flavonoid deficiency is greatly increased.
How do cooking, storage, or processing affect carotenoids?
It is important to note, however, that in most cases, prolonged cooking of vegetables decreases the availability of carotenoids by changing the shape of the carotenoid.
What factors might contribute to a deficiency of carotenoids?
Carotenoids are fat-soluble substances, and as such require the presence of dietary fat for proper absorption through the digestive tract. Consequently, your carotenoid status may be impaired by a diet that is extremely low in fat or if you have a medical condition that causes a reduction in the ability to absorb dietary fat.
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