Modification of Natural Products
The chemical compounds in food play a vital role in sustaining human health, and what you eat and drink can affect your brain functionality, immune system, and longevity. People have been changing food for centuries to make it taste better and last longer, and we can now scientifically modify food to enhance its bioactivity. Keep reading to discover the health benefits of modified natural products and a list of fortified functional foods.
What are Natural Products?
Any organic compound produced by a living organism is considered a natural product. Natural products have a diverse structural range and include all the nucleic acids, sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids that make-up DNA, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. While most natural products are essential to life, many of them, including pheromones, toxins, and antibiotics, act as beneficial substances to plants and animals.
Many natural products are found in plants, animals, bacteria, and fungi with high bioactivity levels that humans can use for medicinal or health purposes in pharmaceuticals and functional food.
The Benefits of Bioactive Compounds in Food
The recent global shift towards healthy eating has driven many consumers to incorporate functional foods and beverages into their diets. Functional foods, sometimes called nutraceuticals, contain natural compounds that may offer unique health benefits, such as preventing diseases and boosting immunity. There is ongoing research into the anti-viral, anti-aging, and antioxidant properties of many natural products, including flavonoids, vitamins, probiotics, and polyphenols.
You can find the most beneficial bioactive compounds in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. Modern biotechnology also allows scientists to modify cereals, plant milk, bread, yogurt, and juice, fortifying them with natural molecules and enhancing their bioactivity. Fortified foods promote development and growth while preventing nutrient deficiencies and chronic diseases.
4 Beneficial Bioactive Compounds Found in Fortified Foods
- Phytosterols and phytostanols are abundant in unrefined plant oils, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and studies show they can lower cholesterol levels and help fight heart disease. Scientists have developed modified rapeseed and soybean oils to increase their phytosterol ratios.
- Carotenoids are the red, orange, and yellow pigments in plants that our bodies convert into vitamin A, beneficial to vision, growth, and immune functioning. Carrots, pumpkins, and tomatoes are excellent sources of carotenoids, and scientists can modify these plants to increase their carotenoid content or use them to fortify rice (golden rice).
- Flavonoids and other phenolic compounds are antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body that can cause cell damage and degenerative diseases. They are abundant in leafy vegetables, berries, and green tea, and scientists have successfully modified potatoes to increase their flavonoid levels.
- Lysine is an amino acid essential to human health that the body does not naturally produce. Studies suggest Lysine promotes wound healing and muscle development and protects against viral infections. Scientists have recently developed a transgenic maize variety with increased Lysine levels.
Many natural compounds are found in plant and animal products with anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. Scientists can modify fruits, vegetables, and other crops to increase their bioactivity, helping the food and beverage industry make more functional products that boost immunity and fight disease. Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of natural flavorings and plant extracts rich in beneficial organic compounds and aromatic flavors.
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