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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Mineral Elements As Phytonutrients Or As Components of Phytochemicals That Are Protective Against Degenerative Disease and Cancer

Author
item Nielsen, Forrest

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 30, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Accumulating evidence indicates that offer protection against diseases often associated with aging; these have been designated as phytochemicals or phytonutrients, which most often are thought to be only organic in nature. Possibly, however, some of the health promoting effects of whole grains, fruits and vegetables may be the result of their mineral content, or that certain mineral elements are required for their phytochemicals to be functional. Support for this hypothesis is that organic substances thought to have protective properties against chronic disease often have not shown the expected protection when isolated from foods and fed as a pure substance. Among the mineral elements that need to examined for a possible role in phytochemical action are selenium, boron and copper. Because selenium as incorporated in broccoli is metabolized and retained in a different manner than selenite, selenate and selenomethione, it has been suggested that some forms of selenium, such as that found in broccol and garlic, may be more effective in protecting against cancer than forms found in other foods or as isolated compounds. Recent studies have shown the boron can enhance and mimic the effects of estrogen therapy in postmenopausal women. Because boron is mostly found in plant products, especially fruits and vegetables, perhaps it is partly responsible for the phytoestrogenic activity found in some plant-derived foods. Reduced copper intake has been associated with an increased incidence of ischemic heart disease and osteoporosis. Plant derived foods are some of the best sources of copper. The suggestive findings with selenium, boron and copper indicate that the mineral elements should not be ignored when the protective actions of phytonutrients or phytochemicals are evaluated.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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