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Trends in Food Science & Technology
Volume 111, 2021, Pages 534-548

Health benefits of phytochemicals from Brazilian native foods and plants: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, and risk factors of metabolic/endocrine disorders control

Anna Paula Azevedo deCarvalhoa,b,c,d,e, Carlos AdamConte-Juniora,b,c,d,e,f,g

Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Chemistry (IQ), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 21941-909, Brazil.



Brazil has over 40,000 varied plant species rich in phytochemicals, expressing 20% of the world's flora. Due to its immense diversity, Brazil presents a high potential to produce knowledge and products with added value useful in phytomedicine and food supplements to prevent and treat several types of diseases as infectious/parasitic, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and others endocrine/metabolic disorders.

Scope and approach

This comprehensive review focuses on advances in knowledge and understanding of the bioactive compounds nature of primary and secondary metabolites of native foods in Brazil. It covers antioxidant, antimicrobial, antihelmintic, anti-cancer and targets risk factors of metabolic/endocrine disorders by edible and non-edible parts of fruit products intake.

Key findings and conclusions

The Brazilian native flora rich in bioactive compounds exert high inhibition hates (in most cases, better than the reference antibiotics) and high selectivity index against several parasites, viruses, fungal and bacterias, without cytotoxicity. However, coronaviruses can get more attention. Moreover, several endemic species-rich in polyphenols and terpenoids demonstrated cancer cell selectivity, no cytotoxicity to healthy cells, and the balance between prooxidant and antioxidant levels that define genomic integrity by cell redox status modulation, thus controlling the cancer cells proliferation. Furthermore, oxidative stress and other metabolic syndrome risk factors can also be avoided by Brazilian flora. The Cerrado and Pampa fruits received significant attention targeting cancer and cardiometabolic/endocrine disorders, while little-explored fruits of Caatinga, Amazon, Pantanal and Atlantic forest, rich sources of antioxidants phenolics, flavonoids, polysaccharides, vitamin C, and terpenes, can still generate exciting discoveries, including food packaging solutions.

Keywords: Bioactive compounds, Herbal medicine, Brazilian fruits, Obesity, Cancer, Antiviral.

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