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Phytochemical functional foods.

Phytochemical functional foods

Johnson I, Williamson G (editors), Woodhead Publishing Ltd, Cambridge, 2004, 384 pages, $360.00, ISBN 1-85573-672

There is suggestive evidence that phytochemicals may have a protective role against a variety of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. While nutritionists have been reading epidemiological reports and the occasional intervention trail about this, some scientists in research and development departments in the food industry are finding out about the chemistry and behaviour of potentially beneficial phytochemicals. It is possible that one or more of them could ultimately appear in functional foods.

Phytochemical functional foods is edited by Ian Johnson from the Institute of Food Research, Norwich, UK and F. Williamson, Head of Metabolic and Genetic Regulation, Nestle Research Centre, Switzerland and the chapter authors are from UK, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Denmark, Czech and Slovak republics.

Chapter 1 reviews effects of polyphenols on nuclear factors and cytokines in cell culture. Chapter 2 reviews the evidence about antioxidant vitamins, carotenoids, flavonoids, phytoestogens, glucosinolates--and disease. Chapter 3 reviews foodborne glucosinolates and cancer in more detail. Two chapters follow on phytoestrogens, then one on carotenoids in food--bioavailability and functional effects. A chapter on the functional benefits of bioflavonoids in tea and another on phytochemicals and gastrointestinal health complete the first part of the book on health benefits of phytochemicals (or, more correctly, possible health benefits). The second part is on developing phytochemical functional products. It deals with assessing the intake of isoflavones; testing the safety of phytochemicals: design of clinical trails, and genetic enhancement of phytochemicals: genetically modified foods already available with increased content of one or more carotenoid(s). A chapter reviews the effect of food processing on phytochemicals and another considers the potential to use some plant materials as antioxidants in food instead of synthetic antioxidants.

The writing is in scientific journal style, with rich lists of modern references. Some chapters also give internet sources of further information. In a few places the writing includes sections of high level chemistry.

The book provides ideas and methods for researchers in food science who are looking for ways of using polyphenols, phytoestrogens, carotenoids and some other phytochemicals in functional foods. Whether we shall see functional foods in the future will depend both on strong evidence of safe and protective effects of a phytochemical and also on extensive chemical work on the form and behaviour of the phytochemical in food, during processing and storage, and after ingestion. There are hundreds of different phytochemicals in foods.

Phytochemical functional foods is recommended as a good reference book for R & D departments of food companies. Nutritionists pursuing special interests in phytochemicals will find useful material in it.

A. Stewart Truswell

Emeritus Professor of Human Nutrition

The University of Sydney
COPYRIGHT 2004 Dietitians Association of Australia
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Truswell, A. Stewart
Publication:Nutrition & Dietetics: The Journal of the Dietitians Association of Australia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2004
Words:455
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