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International Journal of Food Science
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3631647, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/3631647
Review Article

Roots and Tuber Crops as Functional Foods: A Review on Phytochemical Constituents and Their Potential Health Benefits

Department of Applied Nutrition, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Makandura, 60170 Gonawila, Sri Lanka

Received 7 February 2016; Accepted 14 March 2016

Academic Editor: Jose M. Prieto

Copyright © 2016 Anoma Chandrasekara and Thamilini Josheph Kumar. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Starchy roots and tuber crops play a pivotal role in the human diet. There are number of roots and tubers which make an extensive biodiversity even within the same geographical location. Thus, they add variety to the diet in addition to offering numerous desirable nutritional and health benefits such as antioxidative, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, antimicrobial, and immunomodulatory activities. A number of bioactive constituents such as phenolic compounds, saponins, bioactive proteins, glycoalkaloids, and phytic acids are responsible for the observed effects. Many starchy tuber crops, except the common potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cassava, are not yet fully explored for their nutritional and health benefits. In Asian countries, some edible tubers are also used as traditional medicinal. A variety of foods can be prepared using tubers and they may also be used in industrial applications. Processing may affect the bioactivities of constituent compounds. Tubers have an immense potential as functional foods and nutraceutical ingredients to be explored in disease risk reduction and wellness.