Nutraceutical is a portmanteau of "nutrition" and "pharmaceutical" and refers to foods claimed to have a medicinal effect on human health. Such foods are also called functional foods. It can also refer to individual chemicals present in common foods. Many such nutraceuticals are phytonutrients.The name was coined by Dr. Stephen Defelice in 1989.
Examples of claims made for nutraceuticals are red wine (resveratrol) as an antioxidant and an anticholesterolemic, broccoli (sulforaphane) as a cancer preventative, and soy and clover (isoflavonoids) to improve arterial health in women. Such claims are being researched and many citations are available via PubMed to ascertain their veracity.
Several nutraceuticals are known. Some examples are flavinoids, antioxidants such as gamma-linolenic acid, beta carotene, anthocyanins, etc. With the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), USA, several other compounds were added to the list of supplements originally mentioned in FDA notification. Thus many botanical and herbal extracts such as Ginseng, garlic oil,etc found place as nutraceuticals.
- Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002
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