Special Issue "Functional Foods and Human Health"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Food Science and Technology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Wojciech Kolanowski
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Siedlce University, 08-110 Siedlce, Poland
Interests: healthy diet; human nutrition; functional food; food hygiene
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

At present, it is becoming very important for people to maintain health and wellness, primarily by strengthening the immune system. This can be achieved by lifestyle changes, including a diet based on foods with a beneficial effect on health. Functional foods are food products that offer health benefits that extend beyond their nutritional value. They may protect against disease, prevent nutrient deficiencies, and promote proper growth and development. Moreover, these benefits should not only be declared, but proven in clinical trials. Although there is no official definition of a functional food, the market of so-called products currently shows the highest growth rate. The concept of functional food originated in Japan in the 1980s when government agencies started approving foods with proven benefits in an effort to better the health of the general population. Functional foods, also known as nutraceuticals, may by enriched with valuable nutrients or other bio-active substances, or the natural products may contain high levels of these (referred to as “super foods”).

Science and technology go hand in hand in the development of new types of functional foods. The most urgent goal seems to be the work on confirming the impact of bio-active substances that are or may become food ingredients, and which alone or in synergistic action with the whole matrix (i.e., the food product) will be able to strengthen the human immune system to fight pathogens and cancer and beneficially influence metabolism. This is important for every individual, as well as for public health. It requires a great deal of work and presents an opportunity for interesting and necessary research for scientists in the fields of biology, food technology, medicine, dietetics, and animal husbandry and agronomy. We expect that many interesting works will be created in this respect, the results of which will be disseminated and published in this special issue.

Prof. Dr. Wojciech Kolanowski
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • functional food
  • nutraceuticals
  • health
  • bio-active substances
  • antioxidants
  • immune system
  • superfood

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

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Article
Feasibility Assessment of an Encapsulated Longevity Spinach (Gynura procumbens L.) Extract Plant in Indonesia
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(9), 4093; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11094093 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 384
Abstract
The rise of globalization in recent years has favored the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles for many people, increasing their likelihood of diseases with silent symptoms. Longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens L.) is a medicinal plant that has strong phenolic compounds which could [...] Read more.
The rise of globalization in recent years has favored the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles for many people, increasing their likelihood of diseases with silent symptoms. Longevity spinach (Gynura procumbens L.) is a medicinal plant that has strong phenolic compounds which could act as natural antioxidants to reduce the chance of contracting severe silent diseases. This study was focused on the feasibility of an affordable herbal supplement manufacturing plant using longevity spinach with a water solvent. Production simulation was carried out using SuperPro Designer v.9.0, and an estimated annual production of 26,082 bottles was analyzed based on several economic parameters. The production process for herbal supplements from longevity spinach extract consisted of leaf-washing, drying, and grinding, as well as active compound extraction from leaves with water, filtration, evaporation, freeze-drying, and encapsulation. For 30 encapsulated herbal supplements, prices started from USD 22.8/bottle, and the designed production plant was economically feasible (PBP = ±17 months, IRR = 91.65%, and NPV = USD 3,972,653.13). It can be concluded that encapsulated longevity spinach water extract could become an affordable herbal supplement, with feasible manufacturing for further investment activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Polyphenol-Rich Black Elderberry Extract Stimulates Transintestinal Cholesterol Excretion
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(6), 2790; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11062790 - 21 Mar 2021
Viewed by 481
Abstract
Hypercholesterolemia is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recent studies reported that the stimulation of transintestinal cholesterol excretion (TICE), a nonbiliary cholesterol excretion, can be a strategy for preventing CVD. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been reported to reduce [...] Read more.
Hypercholesterolemia is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recent studies reported that the stimulation of transintestinal cholesterol excretion (TICE), a nonbiliary cholesterol excretion, can be a strategy for preventing CVD. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been reported to reduce the risk of CVD via its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hypocholesterolemic effects. However, little is known about the role of black elderberry in intestinal cholesterol metabolism despite its well-known effects on cholesterol homeostasis regulation. To investigate the effects of polyphenol-rich black elderberry extract (BEE) on intestinal cholesterol metabolism, we measured the expression of genes involved in cholesterol biosynthesis and flux in Caco-2 cells. BEE significantly decreased the messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein levels of genes for cholesterol absorption, such as Niemann–Pick C1 Like 1 and ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1). In contrast, there was marked induction of low-density lipoprotein receptor, ABCG5/G8, and ABCB1 in BEE-treated Caco-2 cells. Furthermore, BEE decreased the expression of genes for lipogenesis and altered the mRNA levels of sirtuins. All of the genes altered by BEE were in the direction of flux cholesterol from the basolateral to apical side of enterocytes, indicating stimulation of TICE. These results support the hypocholesterolemic effects of BEE for the prevention of CVD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Osmolality of Components and Their Application in the Design of Functional Recovery Drinks
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7663; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217663 - 29 Oct 2020
Viewed by 557
Abstract
Measuring the osmolality of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other components that contain them, can be very helpful in the design of functional recovery drinks. This study aimed to develop functional recovery drinks based on natural fruit components with the addition of electrolytes and carbohydrates [...] Read more.
Measuring the osmolality of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and other components that contain them, can be very helpful in the design of functional recovery drinks. This study aimed to develop functional recovery drinks based on natural fruit components with the addition of electrolytes and carbohydrates to improve water and electrolyte balance and provide energy after intense physical exertion, as well as ensuring a high content of bioactive ingredients and being of a good sensory quality. The study material consisted of blackcurrant fruit powders obtained by freeze-drying and spray-drying, along with other components such as electrolytes and carbohydrates. The osmolality of the fruit components was measured in aqueous solutions with concentrations from 2.5 to 10%, as well as electrolytes at 0.1 to 4.0% and carbohydrates from 1 to 30%. The sensory quality of drinks was assessed using a scaling method. The content of polyphenols and antioxidant properties were measured spectrophotometrically and the vitamin C content by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Based on the obtained results, five versions of recovery drinks were prepared of defined compositions. These drinks contained fruit powders ranging from 3 to 7%, glucose at 1 to 5%, sucrose 5%, and added electrolytes ranged 0.1 to 0.2% for NaCl and KCl at 0.025%. Their osmolalities ranged from 401 to 564 mOsm/kg H2O, the total polyphenol content was 43 to 62 mg GAE/100 mL, and vitamin C 26 to 35 mg/100 mL. All drinks possessed satisfactory sensory quality. It was established that it is possible to obtain fruit recovery drinks containing defined amounts of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and osmolality values recommended for this type of drink. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Effect of Harvest Age on Total Phenolic, Total Anthocyanin Content, Bioactive Antioxidant Capacity and Antiproliferation of Black and White Glutinous Rice Sprouts
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(20), 7051; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10207051 - 11 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1191
Abstract
Black (cv. BGR) and white (cv. RD6) glutinous rice sprouts from fertilizer- and pesticide-free farm in Khon Kaen province, Thailand were investigated for antioxidation and antiproliferative activity. Three different ages of rice sprouts were collected and prepared as the extract. BGR exerted higher [...] Read more.
Black (cv. BGR) and white (cv. RD6) glutinous rice sprouts from fertilizer- and pesticide-free farm in Khon Kaen province, Thailand were investigated for antioxidation and antiproliferative activity. Three different ages of rice sprouts were collected and prepared as the extract. BGR exerted higher antioxidant capacity than RD6 based on total phenolic (TPC) and total anthocyanin contents (TAC), DPPH, and FRAP assays. BGR at 10–15 days contained the highest TPC (29.72 ± 1.42 mg gallic acid equivalent/g extract) and reducing power (2.22 ± 0.014 mmole FeSO4/g extract). BGR at 20–25 days contained the highest TAC (0.86 ± 0.096 equivalence of cyanidin-3-glucoside/g extract) and DPPH radical scavenging activity (IC50 = 231.09 ± 12.99 μg/mL). Antiproliferative activity of the extracts was evaluated in the human T-lymphocyte (Jurkat), hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2), colorectal carcinoma (HCT116), melanoma (SK-MEL-2) and noncancerous cells (Vero) by neutral red assay. BGR showed the most selective antiproliferation against Jurkat cells, by inducing apoptosis, and caspase 3/7 activity. BGR at 200 μg/mL from all ages significantly decreased ROS using DCFH-DA and increased endogenous glutathione levels in Jurkat cells compared to the control (p < 0.05). The higher antiproliferation of BGR than RD6 was via its antioxidation capacity and attributed to its higher phenolic and anthocyanin contents. BGR sprout is a potential source of biologically active substances good for wellness and health benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Fermented Rhus Verniciflua Stokes Extract Alleviates Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver through the AMPK/SREBP1/PCSK9 Pathway in HFD-Induced Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Animal Model
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(19), 6833; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10196833 - 29 Sep 2020
Viewed by 569
Abstract
Background: We have previously reported the anti-hepatic lipogenic effect of fermented Rhus verniciflua stokes extract (FRVE) in an oleic-acid-treated HepG2 cell model. Methods: Herein, we advanced our understanding and evaluated the impact of FRVE in HFD-fed C57BL/6 mice using an animal model of [...] Read more.
Background: We have previously reported the anti-hepatic lipogenic effect of fermented Rhus verniciflua stokes extract (FRVE) in an oleic-acid-treated HepG2 cell model. Methods: Herein, we advanced our understanding and evaluated the impact of FRVE in HFD-fed C57BL/6 mice using an animal model of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Milk thistle extract was used as a positive control to compare the effects of FRVE. Results: FRVE decreased body weight, intra-abdominal fat weight, and liver weight. Furthermore, FRVE decreased HFD-induced elevated serum levels of ALT, AST, TC, and TG, and downregulated the increase in hepatic lipid accumulation and TG levels. FRVE reduced hepatic SREBP-1, PCSK-9, SREBP-2, and ApoB mRNA levels. IHC data showed that FRVE reduced the levels of nucleic SREBP-1, increased the levels of LDLR, and upregulated the expression of p-AMPK. Conclusion: Overall, these results demonstrate the anti-hepatic lipidemic effect of FRVE in an animal model. These findings are consistent with our previous study and strongly suggest that FRVE exerts anti-hepatic lipogenic effects by activating AMPK. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Communication
Blocking Effect of Chaga Mushroom (Inonotus oliquus) Extract for Immune Checkpoint CTLA-4/CD80 Interaction
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(17), 5774; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10175774 - 20 Aug 2020
Viewed by 730
Abstract
Inonotus obliquus, also known as the Chaga mushroom, has been used as a traditional medicine to treat many different diseases in Asia. Ethanol and water extraction were performed to examine the blocking effect of the Chaga mushroom on the CTLA-4/CD80 interaction. The [...] Read more.
Inonotus obliquus, also known as the Chaga mushroom, has been used as a traditional medicine to treat many different diseases in Asia. Ethanol and water extraction were performed to examine the blocking effect of the Chaga mushroom on the CTLA-4/CD80 interaction. The inhibitory activities of the Chaga mushroom/70% EtOH extract (CME) and the Chaga mushroom/water extract (CMW) were confirmed using several cell-based assays. To identify the contents of major compounds CME and CMW, we performed HPLC analysis. The content of lanosterol (1) in CME was 0.41%. Our findings provide experimental evidence that the Chaga mushroom can develop a small-molecule inhibitor that blocks the CTLA-4/CD80 interaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
The Effect of the Addition of Fruit Powders on the Quality of Snacks with Jerusalem Artichoke during Storage
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(16), 5603; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10165603 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 541
Abstract
The aim of the study was to evaluate the physical, chemical and sensory properties of novel snacks gained from pellets composed of Jerusalem artichoke flour with the addition of cranberry, chokeberry and blackcurrant juice powders (after extrusion) fried or microwaved during 5-week storage. [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the physical, chemical and sensory properties of novel snacks gained from pellets composed of Jerusalem artichoke flour with the addition of cranberry, chokeberry and blackcurrant juice powders (after extrusion) fried or microwaved during 5-week storage. In ready-to-eat snacks stored in climatic chamber, the moisture content, texture, colour, total polyphenols content and antioxidant capacity, while in fat fraction of fried snacks—peroxide and acid values were examined. Overall sensory attributes were monitored as well. It was indicated that an addition of fruit powders increased the content of total polyphenols (on average by 40%) and improved the antioxidant capacity of snacks obtained. The products with fruit powders exhibited more attractive colour, while their texture was harder (when cranberry and chokeberry powders were added) in comparison with the control sample. Snacks with fruit powders addition showed better storage stability, what was especially important in the case of fried snacks where oxidative deterioration is most significant. The best effect was observed when chokeberry or black currant powders were used as additives. Replacing frying by microwaving as expansion method allowed to obtain snacks with acceptable sensory attributes and good quality during storage. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Effect of Daily Intake of a Saffron Infusion on Blood Cholesterol Levels
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(14), 4763; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10144763 - 10 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 569
Abstract
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), as well as having notable culinary value, has been traditionally used as a medicinal plant due to its bioactivity. Furthermore, its antioxidant properties have been evaluated, and it may have cardiovascular benefits. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic [...] Read more.
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), as well as having notable culinary value, has been traditionally used as a medicinal plant due to its bioactivity. Furthermore, its antioxidant properties have been evaluated, and it may have cardiovascular benefits. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that causes a diminution in the daily physical exercise of patients. This sedentary lifestyle may contribute to an increased incidence of dyslipidaemia in this population, and could explain the increased cardiovascular morbidity. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of the intake of a saffron infusion over 96 days on the lipid profile of MS patients. Considering the extraction kinetics of bioactive metabolites, the best way to prepare the infusion was by using ground saffron (PDO “Azafrán de La Mancha”), passed through a 0.5 mm sieve and infused with water at the boiling point (95–100 °C). A total of 35 MS patients took a midafternoon infusion for 96 days; 16 of them completed the treatment. A significant decrease in total blood cholesterol levels from 199.5 to 179.5 mg/dL was observed. Additionally, a significant diminution of triglyceride levels, from 124.0 to 101.0 mg/dL, was observed. In conclusion, the intake of an infusion of 50 mg of “Azafrán de La Mancha” for 96 days had a lipid-lowering effect in patients with MS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Quality of New Functional Powdered Beverages Enriched with Lyophilized Fruits—Potentially Bioaccessible Antioxidant Properties, Nutritional Value, and Consumer Analysis
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(11), 3668; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10113668 - 26 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 845
Abstract
This study evaluates nutrients and health-promoting compounds responsible for antioxidant capacity in eight novel formulations based on lyophilized fruit and vegetable powders. The composition contained lyophilized carrot, pumpkin, lentil sprouts, raspberry, strawberry, and apple. The effect of functional additives on the antioxidant, nutritional, [...] Read more.
This study evaluates nutrients and health-promoting compounds responsible for antioxidant capacity in eight novel formulations based on lyophilized fruit and vegetable powders. The composition contained lyophilized carrot, pumpkin, lentil sprouts, raspberry, strawberry, and apple. The effect of functional additives on the antioxidant, nutritional, and functional characteristics of powdered beverages was determined in the powders and after rehydration followed by in vitro digestion. The antioxidant activity, phenols, vitamin C, and reducing power were significantly higher in the powders enriched with additives having potential functional properties. Furthermore, the analyses indicated that all the powdered formulations may be potential sources of total starch (100–112 mg/100 mL) and proteins (125–139 mg/100 mL). The designed powdered beverages after reconstitution exhibited high antioxidant content, reasonable consumer acceptance, and good in vitro bioaccessibility. The best results of antioxidant capacity were obtained for beverages enriched with raspberry, i.e., 10.4 mg Trolox equivalent (TE)/100 mL and 12.1 mg TE/100 mL rehydrated at 20 °C and 80 °C, respectively. Additionally, color characteristics were used as indicators of the quality of the powdered beverages. This research promotes the reduction of food waste, since whole plant tissues are used, thus allowing maximum exploitation of food raw materials; moreover, drying provides stable shelf life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Article
Opuntia ficus-indica L. Mill Residues—Properties and Application Possibilities in Food Supplements
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(9), 3260; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10093260 - 07 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 843
Abstract
Recently, industry has been focusing on the development of new products made from food by-products in order to reduce and take advantage of food wastes. The objective of this study was to evaluate tablet formulations developed by mixing two commercial excipients, microcrystalline cellulose [...] Read more.
Recently, industry has been focusing on the development of new products made from food by-products in order to reduce and take advantage of food wastes. The objective of this study was to evaluate tablet formulations developed by mixing two commercial excipients, microcrystalline cellulose (M) and α-lactose-monohydrate (L), added with powder from residues (mesocarp and pericarp) of green and red (G and R) cactus pear fruit (Opuntia ficus-indica L. Mill), having the following formulations: green with microcrystalline cellulose (GM), green with lactose (GL), red with microcrystalline cellulose (RM), and red with lactose (RL). The results showed lower disintegration times for the tablets with microcrystalline cellulose. The fiber functional properties presented good values for lipid and water holding capacity. There was a higher total phenolic content (TPC) in formulations with green cactus pear residue powder with microcrystalline cellulose and lactose (GM and GL, respectively), but the DPPH and ferric reducing/antioxidant power (FRAP) values were higher in the formulations with red cactus pear residues (RM and RL), while ABTS values were similar among all formulations. In conclusion, tablets made from Opuntia residues are proposed as a product of interest for the food supplement industry because of the good quality parameters and the functional and antioxidant properties that they provide. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Review

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Review
L-Citrulline: A Non-Essential Amino Acid with Important Roles in Human Health
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(7), 3293; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11073293 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 740
Abstract
L-Arginine (Arg) has been widely used due to its functional properties as a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) generation. However, L-citrulline (CIT), whose main natural source is watermelon, is a non-essential amino acid but which has important health potential. This review provides a [...] Read more.
L-Arginine (Arg) has been widely used due to its functional properties as a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) generation. However, L-citrulline (CIT), whose main natural source is watermelon, is a non-essential amino acid but which has important health potential. This review provides a comprehensive approach to different studies of the endogenous synthesis of CIT, metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics as well as its ergogenic effect in exercise performance. The novel aspect of this paper focuses on the different effects of CIT, citrulline malate and CIT from natural sources such as watermelon on several topics, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer, and exercise performance. CIT from watermelon could be a natural food-sourced substitute for pharmacological products and therefore the consumption of this fruit is promoted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Review
Mediterranean Raisins/Currants as Traditional Superfoods: Processing, Health Benefits, Food Applications and Future Trends within the Bio-Economy Era
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(4), 1605; https://doi.org/10.3390/app11041605 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
This review elaborates on the significance of Mediterranean raisins, focusing particularly on indigenous Greek varieties (e.g., Zante currants) as a previously overlooked traditional food, currently brought on the spotlight, resulting from the increased consumers’ awareness to improve wellness through diet modification. Recent studies [...] Read more.
This review elaborates on the significance of Mediterranean raisins, focusing particularly on indigenous Greek varieties (e.g., Zante currants) as a previously overlooked traditional food, currently brought on the spotlight, resulting from the increased consumers’ awareness to improve wellness through diet modification. Recent studies on the effect of processing steps on final quality, along with findings on the potential health benefits raisins and currants elicit, are also presented. The development of novel functional food products to further exploit the nutritional value and the bioactive compounds of raisins is evidenced in view of indicating potential food industry applications. Moreover, valorization options of waste and by-product streams obtained from processing facilities are also proposed. Conclusively, raisins and currants should be further enhanced and incorporated in a balanced diet regime through the inclusion in novel foods formulation. Evidently, both the processing of the onset material and side-streams management, are essential to ensure sustainability. Hence, the article also highlights integrated biorefinery approaches, targeting the production of high-value added products that could be re-introduced in the food supply chain and conform with the pillars of bio-economy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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Review
Sources, Bioavailability, and Safety of Silicon Derived from Foods and Other Sources Added for Nutritional Purposes in Food Supplements and Functional Foods
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(18), 6255; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10186255 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 776
Abstract
Silicon is a microelement that performs a number of important functions in the human body, being involved in the formation and maintenance of normal osteocartilaginous connective tissue, such as skin, hair, and nails, and having beneficial effects in the prevention of cardiovascular and [...] Read more.
Silicon is a microelement that performs a number of important functions in the human body, being involved in the formation and maintenance of normal osteocartilaginous connective tissue, such as skin, hair, and nails, and having beneficial effects in the prevention of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Natural sources of silicon include fruits, vegetables, cereals, and mineral water. European and North American diets are generally low in silicon, which correlates with a diet high in processed foods. Dietary silicon deficiency can be overcome by the consumption of high bioavailability silicon-rich foods and the use of silicon supplements. A good form of supplementation is orthosilicic acid (OSA), usually stabilized by the introduction of a methyl group, choline, or vanillin. OSA is naturally found in diatomaceous earth in the form of amorphous silica and extracts from silicon-rich plants, e.g., horsetail (Eguiseti herba L.) and nettles (Urtica dioica L.). This article presents the characteristics of the various sources of silicon and their bioavailability and safety of use, with particular reference to the sources used in functional foods and dietary supplements. There is a great need to produce functional foods containing dietary silicon, together with other scarce mineral components. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Foods and Human Health)
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