An approach to understanding the role in human health of non-nutrient chemicals in food
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Many expert nutritional groups are concerned with defining and then educating the public on the ingredients of a wholesome and concomitantly healthy diet. Vegetables and fruit are high on the list of acceptable foods. Their inclusion is backed up by much epidemiological evidence to show that diets containing a high proportion of fruit and vegetables have a protective effect against cardiovascular-related diseases, as well as cancer (Gey, 1994; Graham et al., 1978). The nutritionists appear to have reached a consensus as to what constitutes a healthy diet. However, on close examination it is rarely clear which constituents of the diet are responsible for these health-giving properties and what mechanisms may underlie their effects. Food contains both major and minor chemical constituents. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates (both simple and complex) and fibre are the major constituents. Minor constituents include vitamins and minerals. However, in addition to the above there is a host of other chemicals, such as natural inherent non-nutrients, that are present in food. For many years, nutritionists have tended to ignore these chemicals. One reason could be that they were perceived as being nutritionally inert and therefore contributing very little to the wholesomeness of foods. There is now a large body of evidence which suggests that these neglected compounds may play a supporting role in imparting health (Wattenberg, 1993).
KeywordsMethyl Glyoxal Western Diet Acceptable Daily Intake Allyl Isothiocyanate Ethyl Carbamate
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