Agave (Agave spp.) and its Traditional Products as a Source of Bioactive Compounds
Ana Maria Leal-Diaz,
Janet Alejandra Gutierrez- Uribe.
Agave has been used as a raw material for food and folklore medicinal purposes. Traditional processing involves
the use of agave as a source of carbohydrate-rich syrups for direct use or as substrate to yield hydrolyzed fermented
products and spirits. Agave plants can accumulate significant amounts of inulin, important molecule with prebiotic
activity. The agave plant has been used to feed ruminants in arid areas where drought episodes are prevalent. This
plant is an important source of saponins, considered as antinutritional factors but also as anticancer, antifungal, and antiinflammatory
agents. Considering the low hydrosolubility of saponins, these compounds are not being recovered from the
plant and alternative processes need to be devised. Agave also contains polyphenols with activities such as: anticancer, antioxidant,
antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitical, antimicrobial, prebiotics and coadjuvant in mineral absorption.
The full phytochemical characterization of the sap, leaves and byproducts generated from the traditional food uses is
needed to validate the beneficial effects of agave consumption and its potential use as a source of functional ingredients.
Keywords: Agave, fructooligosaccharides, nutraceutical, polyphenols, saponins.
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