Health Promoting Phytochemicals

There is much interest in the role of various phyto-chemicals to promote good health and to reduce the risk of various cancers. As with many plant foods, legume seeds contain a number of these types of compounds. Prominent in this group are the iso-flavonoids, such as genistein and daidzein, which are found at high levels in soybeans. Epidemio-logical studies have suggested a positive association between the consumption of soy isoflavones and reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer in humans. These and other related isoflavones are found in seeds of most of the commonly grown legumes. In addition, various saponins, catechins, epicatechins, and anthocyanidins have been measured in various legume seeds, and these compounds have also been suggested to have health-promoting qualities. Plant biochemists and human nutritionists are actively working to manipulate the levels of these and other compounds in legumes.

See also: Bioavailability. Cereal Grains. Protein: Quality and Sources. Vegetarian Diets. Whole Grains.

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