Produce for Better Health Foundation
Produce for Better Health Foundation
    Media | Catalog | FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org | Contact Us  
Produce for Better Health Foundation

Produce for Better Health Foundation
Print This        
        About PBH : Research : Phytochemical Information Center : Glossary
Glossary
Phytochemical Info Center





Alpha-carotene
Anthocyanidins
Antioxidants
Apigenin
Beta-carotene
Beta-cryptoxanthin
Cancer
Carotenoids
Cataract
Catechin
Ellagic Acid
Epicatechins
Flavonoids
Hesperetin
Indoles
Isothiocyanates
Lutein
Luteolin
Lycopene
Macular Degeneration
Myricetin
Naringenin
Organosulfur Compounds
Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC)
Phytochemicals
Polyphenols
Proanthocyanidins
Quercetin
Resveratrol
Zeaxanthin


Alpha-carotene: Alpha-carotene is one of the most abundant carotenoids in the diet. It can be converted in the body to an active form of vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. Alpha-carotene has less than half the vitamin A activity of the major vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene. In addition to being a precursor for vitamin A, alpha-carotene may act as an antioxidant in the body.
back to index

Anthocyanidins: Anthocyanidins are antioxidants that have been linked to improved blood vessel health in animals and humans.
back to index

Antioxidant(s): Antioxidants are found naturally in many fruits and vegetables and may protect cells from damage caused by the by-products (free radicals) of everyday metabolism and toxic substances in the environment and food. Over time, free radicals can significantly damage cells and lead to a number of diseases associated with aging. Antioxidants act as little vacuum cleaners, eliminating free radicals as they circulate throughout the body, preventing them from doing damage.
back to index

Apigenin: Apigenin is a flavonoid with potential chemopreventive actions.
back to index

Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is probably the most familiar and well-studied of the carotenoids. It is a potent antioxidant as well as a major precursor for Vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health.
back to index

Beta-cryptoxanthin: Beta-cryptoxanthin is one of the pro-vitamin A carotenoids. It can be converted in the body to an active form of vitamin A, a nutrient important for vision, immune function, and skin and bone health. Beta-cryptoxanthin has about half the vitamin A activity of the major vitamin A precursor, beta-carotene. In addition, beta-cryptoxanthin acts as an antioxidant in the body.
back to index

Cancer: A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.
back to index

Carotenoids: Carotenoids are fat-soluble phytochemicals with a Vitamin-A-like structure that have strong antioxidant and other potentially protective properties. Carotenoids are found in many fruits and vegetables.
back to index

Cataract: A cataract refers to cloudiness in the lens of the eye, which can cause vision loss and sometimes blindness. Structural proteins in the eye breakdown with aging and cause cataracts. Fifty percent of the population between ages 52 and 64, and 70% of those over 70 years old, have cataracts. Symptoms of cataracts include blurry or fuzzy vision, changes in color vision, and increased glare from lights among others.
back to index

Catechin: Catechin is a flavonoid that is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and certain cancers and with healthy lung function.
back to index

Ellagic acid: Ellagic acid falls into a broader class of phytochemicals called polyphenols. Ellagic acid acts as an antioxidant and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
back to index

Epicatechins: The epicatechins (epicatechin, epicatechin gallate epigallocatechin, epigallocatechin gallate) have been linked to lower risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer.
back to index

Flavonoids: Flavonoids, a subclass of polyphenols, are a group of phytochemicals that are among the most potent and abundant antioxidants in our diet. The flavonoids are further divided into subclasses based on slightly different chemical structures. Although more than 4000 flavonoids have been identified, several appear to be important components of many fruits and vegetables.
back to index

Hesperetin: Hesperetin is a flavonoid that has been shown in animal studies to lower blood pressure, inflammation, and levels of ‘bad' (LDL) cholesterol, but these effects have not been studied in humans yet.
back to index

Indoles: Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemical indoles and isothiocyanates that have anti-cancer properties.
back to index

Isothiocyanates: Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemical indoles and isothiocyanates that have anti-cancer properties.
back to index

Lutein: The carotenoid lutein concentrates in the macula of the eye. Evidence suggests that eating foods high in lutein may prevent and slow macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. As an antioxidant, lutein reduces the amount of free radical damage to the macula and may also help prevent the formation of cataracts, reduce the risk of heart disease, and protect against certain types of cancer.
back to index

Luteolin: Luteolin is a flavonoid that has been shown in animal studies to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic effects, and anti-asthma effects. These effects have not been studied in humans yet.
back to index

Lycopene: Lycopene, one of the carotenoids, is a potent antioxidant. It has been associated with a reduced risk for many cancers, especially prostate cancer, and protection against heart attacks, though research continues on other potential health benefits. Tomato-based products have the most concentrated source of lycopene. Cooked tomato sauces are associated with greater health benefits, compared to uncooked, because the heating process makes all carotenoids (including lycopene) more easily absorbed by the body.
back to index

Macular Degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration is the number one cause of severe vision loss or legal blindness in adults over 60 in the U.S. More than one in 10 adults aged 65 to 74, and 28 percent of those 75 years or older have the disease. Age-related macular degeneration reduces 'straight ahead' central vision necessary for normal functioning. Risk for macular degeneration increases with age and smoking and dietary factors may also play a role. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and brightly colored fruits and vegetables like mangoes, oranges and cantaloupes contain phytochemicals called lutein and zeaxanthin that may reduce the risk for macular degeneration.
back to index

Myricetin: Myricetin is a flavonoid that has been found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in lab studies. In animal studies myricetin increased the transport of blood sugar into fat cells and increased the ability of insulin to clear fats (triglycerides) from the blood. These effects have not been examined in people yet.
back to index

Naringenin: Naringenin is a flavonoid that has been shown in lab and animal studies to have antioxidant, anti-hormone (anti-estrogen), and cholesterol-lowering abilities.
back to index

Organosulfur compounds: Allium vegetables include garlic, onions, shallots, chives and leeks. These vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that are thought to protect against cancer. Studies on garlic also show that it has the potential to lower many risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
back to index

Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC): ORAC is a measure of a food's ability to absorb oxygen radicals that can oxidize cellular components in the body. It is used to measure the antioxidant power of a food.
back to index

Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are substances that are found only in plants and that have biological effects in humans. Some of them may provide health benefits beyond those provided by essential nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Eating a variety of colorful phytochemical-rich fruits and vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of some chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Phytochemicals may act as antioxidants, protect and regenerate essential nutrients, and/or work to deactivate cancer-causing substances.
back to index

Polyphenols: Polyphenols are a broad class of phytochemicals that include flavonoids, stillbenes (includes resveratrol), and phenolic acids. They represent the most abundant antioxidants in our diets. Polyphenols are thought to protect the body's tissues against oxidative stress and may prevent various diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation.
back to index

Proanthocyanidins: Proanthocyanidins are a group of flavonoids with strong antioxidant properties. Proanthocyanidins may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, while some proanthocyanidins may protect against urinary tract infections.
back to index

Quercetin: Quercetin is considered to be the main flavonoid in the diet. People who have the highest intakes of quercetin-containing foods were found to have a lower risk for asthma, lower mortality from heart disease, and lower lung cancer incidence.
back to index

Resveratrol: Resveratrol falls into a broader class of phytochemicals called polyphenols which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Resveratrol, which is most abundant in red wine, is thought to be one of the compounds responsible for the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet. Resveratrol may help lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol were recently demonstrated in lung cells, which may have implications for lower risk of lung disease and asthma.
back to index

Zeaxanthin: Zeaxanthin, one of the carotenoids with antioxidant power, is often linked with lutein, since both are deposited in the macular region of the eye. Zeaxanthin may help to prevent macular degeneration and certain types of cancer.
back to index



 

For more information on PBH Research, please contact PBH's Elizabeth Pivonka.

 

Other Phytochemical Info Center Topics
Phytochemical List
About the Phytochemical Info Center
FAQ's
References

 

Top

 

PRINT THIS