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Several other food groups have also been reported to contain bioactive nutrients that can have positive impact on human health. Cereal grains contain dietary fibers, proteins, and phytochemicals that contribute to reduced risk of negative cardiovascular events. Cereal fibers, for example, can reduce insulinemia, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce plasma cholesterol. Various cereal polyphenols are associated with increased antioxidant status of the plasma and tissues, which reduces the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Barley fiber (β-glucan) increases viscosity of the gut contents, which attenuates both enzyme digestion and glucose release to provide for improved disease management in diabetic people. Flaxseed has high contents of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), a lignan that has anticancer effects mostly through induction of S-phase cell cycle arrest that leads to increased apoptosis of cancer cells. Tea leaves contain epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a polyphenol that also has anticancer properties. EGCG has been implicated in the amelioration of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by tea consumption because of its ability to inhibit aggregation of amyloid-β, a major pathogenic factor in the disease. Buckwheat contains high levels of indigestible proteins that bind neutral sterols, increase their fecal removal, and thereby contribute to reduced plasma cholesterol. Caffeine consumption is associated with decreased hepatic accumulation of fatty acids through reduced activities of fatty acid synthase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase. Plant nut proteins are high in arginine, a precursor for the biosynthesis of nitric oxide (NO), which enhances vasodilation. Cocoa polyphenols also have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system through inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme and upregulation of NO synthesis pathway.
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- Miscellaneous Foods and Food Components
- Springer New York
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