Role and health benefits of different functional food components

  • Raquel Guiné
  • Maria João Lima
  • Maria João Barroca


Functional food components are potentially beneficial components found
naturally in foods or added to them as functional ingredients, and include carotenoids,
dietary fiber, fatty acids, flavonoids, isothiocyanates, phenolic acids, plant stanols and
sterols, polyols, prebiotics and probiotics, phytoestrogens, soy protein, vitamins and
At present, professionals are recognizing that some functional components of
foods have a major role in health enhancement. In fact, the big importance of these
“bioactives” present in many foods, either naturally or added, has lead many scientists of
different fields to conduct studies aimed for establishing the scientific basis that supports
and validates the benefits of a particular food or component for the human health. It
appears that people should strive to consume a wide variety of foods such as to assure the
ingestion of compounds such as carotenoids, fiber, flavonoids, specific fatty acids,
minerals, prebiotics and probiotics, phytoestrogens, soy protein and vitamins, among
others, in order to reduce the risk of developing some diseases, or even to help curing
In the present work, an examination of the characteristics of these compounds,
the study and repercussions of these “bioactives molecules” allied to their ability to
prevent and/or cure certain diseases will be object of study, based on recent evidence
published in the medical journals.


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