Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Fruit Extracts Help Exercise Recovery and Asthma

By Roger Hurst

Natural fruit compounds may balance the impacts that exercise can have on the body and help breathing in some types of asthma.

Dr Roger Hurst leads the Food and Wellness Group at Plant & Food Research in New Zealand.

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It has long been accepted that fruit, vegetables and grains are good for us, but it is only more recently that scientists have begun investigating plant bioactive compounds and the mechanisms by which they keep us healthy.

But before looking at more recent findings it is useful to consider some food science history. In the early 20th century vitamins were discovered, and it was found that small amounts of these compounds were just as important to our good health as macronutrients like proteins and carbohydrates. Some vitamins are essential for life, and without them people develop deficiency diseases like scurvy, pellagra and beriberi.

More recent research has revealed that some vitamins and other compounds in plant-based foods have further benefits to health in addition to being antioxidants.

What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that slow or stop the oxidation of other molecules in the human body. They act as antidotes to the body’s own poisons.

It is useful to think that within the vast majority of our cells there are chemical factories undergoing many processes that are complex and not fully understood. Oxidation is a vital part of these processes, and is important in generating energy for the growth and repair of human tissue. Oxidation takes place when we breathe, eat and exercise; if it didn’t we’d...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.