Functional Components and Medicinal Properties of Food

  • Christian Izuchukwu AbuajahEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


There is growing evidence that functional components (bioactives and phytochemicals) of food play an integral role in the link between food and the prevention of diseases. Although some functional components were labelled anti-nutrients, their role as potential healthy biochemical components of diets for the prevention of degenerative pathologies have been scientifically elucidated. Some properties which link functional components to potential health-modulating roles and functions can be classified into anti-oxidation, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular, anti-microbial, immunomodulatory and anti-hypertensive. However, the mechanisms through which they impact on human health are not completely clear. Food processing techniques exercise effects on functional components of food. While some processing techniques increase their concentration in food, others decrease them. Therefore, in this era when the role of a healthy diet in preventing degenerative, non-communicable and chronic diseases is well accepted, the borderline between food and medicine is becoming very thin. Thus, the concept of food has obviously gone beyond basic nutrition only. While products intended to cure diseases are classified as medicine, a healthy diet consisting of foods with functional components can help optimize health and promote well-being as well as reduce or prevent the risk of developing certain diseases.


Bioactives Diet Food Functional components Health Medicine Nutrition Phytochemicals Well-being 



Adenylate kinase1 encoding gene




Conjugated linoleic acid


Complementary receptor3


Dietary fiber


Docosahexaenoic acid


Deoxyribonucleic acid


Degree of polymerization




Eicosapentaenoic acid




Glutathione peroxidase


Glutathione reductase


High density lipoprotein


Human hepatoma cells G2


High pressure processing


Human T-celllymphotroic virus type1


Hot water extract




Lactic acid bacteria


Lactocylceramide (a bioactive lipid)


Low density lipoprotein


Mitogen activated protein kinases


Microphage inflammatory protein2


Messenger ribonucleic acid


Myeloid differentiation primary receptor gene 88


Nuclear factor of activated T cells


Nuclear factor kappa light-chain-enhancer of activated β cells.


Natural killer


Nuclear factor2 pathway


Non-thermal processing


Pulsed electric field


Phosphatidyl inositol-4,5-biphosphate-3-kinase


Protein kinase C


Poly-unsaturated fatty acid


Reactive Nitrogen species


Reactive oxygen species


Specific ICAM (intracellular adhesion molecule)-3 grabbing non-intergrin-related antigen


Superoxide dismutase


Spleen tyrosine kinase encoding enzyme gene


Toll-like receptors


Tumor necrosis factor alpha


TNF receptor associated factor6


Water binding capacity



The author expresses grateful acknowledgement to Dr. Elena Barascu of Department of Food Engineering, Valahia University, Targoviste, Dambovita, Romania and Prof. Lavinia Buruleanu, the Editor-in-Chief, Annals Food Science and Technology for granting kind permission to reuse the original article, Current developments on β-glucans as functional components of food: a review published in volume 14, issue 2, and pages 217–229 of its 2013 edition in this work. It is further acknowledged that the journal article, Functional components and medicinal properties of food: a review which was first published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, volume 52, issue 5, pages 2522–2529 in 2015 also contributed to this book chapter project.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyUniversity of UyoUyoNigeria

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