Submitted to: Chronica Horticulturae
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2005
Publication Date: 9/1/2005
Citation: Finley, J.W. 2005. Bioactive compounds and designer plant foods: the need for clear guidelines to evaluate potential benefits to human health. Chronica Horticulturae. 45(3):6-11.
Technical Abstract: Scientific advances have made it increasingly easy for scientists to manipulate the genes plants that produce nutrients and other beneficial substances. However, the ability of plant scientists to manipulate these compounds often exceeds our understanding of the benefits, if any, that increased consumption of those compounds may provide the consumer. Consequently the plant/food industry needs to establish their own set of criteria that will allow them to determine whether a specific component of a plant is beneficial to human health. This review suggests such criteria and then uses them to evaluate the benefits of supplemental beta-carotene, lycopene, polyphenols, glucosinolates and selenocompounds. Although the criteria proposed suggest major problems and deficiencies in the evidence for all of these compounds, such problems should not dampen enthusiasm for this work. Instead it should serve to stimulate cooperation between plant scientists and medical researchers/human nutritionists that will allow development of plant foods that provide a real benefit to human health.