Antioxidant phytochemicals gain scientific recognition

Studies on the antioxidant effect of vitamins and minerals are already passé! Research on plant antioxidants is now in fashion. These are the conclusions from the meta-analysis of almost 300,000 scientific publications on antioxidants.

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The intensity of biological oxidation processes is associated with aging and progression of various inflammatory diseases, including autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. Antioxidants - natural or synthetic compounds that prevent oxidation - were expected to provide protection or therapeutic assistance in the fight against inflammatory diseases and the aging process.

An international team of scientists headed by Prof. Atanas G. Atanasov from the Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding of the Polish Academy of Sciences analysed 299 602 scientific papers on various aspects of antioxidant activity. A certain trend has been noticed: the attention of scientists around the world has shifted from studies of vitamins and minerals (these studies were popular before 2000) to studies of antioxidant plant compounds (such as curcumin from curcuma or resveratrol from red wine). The results were published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2019/8278454/abs/).

"The reason for the scientific focus shift could be that clinical trials involving many vitamins and antioxidant minerals did not meet high expectations and failed to provide the expected health benefits" - Prof. Atanasov says in a release sent to PAP.

He adds: "While the scientific community was already largely aware of unfulfilled expectations concerning the health benefits of using vitamins and minerals, the results confirming that fact did not reach a wide audience, and a large part of the public continued to believe in their healing properties. Scientists now have high hopes for antioxidant plant compounds, as the results of our study clearly show".

The scientist explains that such antioxidants of plant origin occur in fresh fruits and vegetables. "We, as scientists, hope to gain a better understanding of the mechanism of action of these molecules in order to be able to use them in the prevention and treatment of diseases" - the scientist concludes.

Source: PAP - Science in Poland