Bioactive Compounds of Legumes as Health Promoters
Pp. 3-26 (24)
Luis R. Silva, Alvaro Peix, Carlos Albuquerque and Encarna Velazquez
Legumes are a wide group of plants worldwide cultivated by the high
nutritional quality of their seeds containing fibre, proteins, resistant starch, minerals
and vitamins. The milk obtained from seeds of some legumes, mainly soybean, is used
to obtain fermented products currently widely consumed as probiotics. Moreover,
legumes are considered as nutraceuticals since they contain bioactive peptides (BAPs)
and many phytochemicals endowed with useful biological activities. Legume BAPs
have antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypocholesterolemic and antithrombotic activities.
Flavonoids and particularly isoflavones have beneficial effects in different cancer
types, have been related with lower cardiovascular risk and are protective against fatty
liver disease, obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Hydrophilic phytochemicals, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), phenolic acids and
polyphenols, have been associated with a reduction of cancer risk and an enhancement
of the immune system functionality. Lipophilic phytonutrients, such as carotenoids and
tocopherols, may prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In this chapter we revise
the recent works focusing on legume bioactive compounds and human health
Bioactive peptides, Carotenoids, Fatty acids, Isoflavones, Legumes,
CICS UBI Health Sciences Research Centre, University of Beira Interior, 6201-506 Covilha, Portugal.