Nutraceutical, a portmanteau the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical”, is a food or food product that provides health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease.
Health Canada defines the term as, "A nutraceutical is a product isolated or purified from foods that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food. A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease."
Such products may range from isolated nutrients, dietary supplements and specific diets to genetically engineered foods, herbal products, and processed foods such as cereals, soups, and beverages.
With recent developments in cellular-level nutraceutical agents, researchers, and medical practitioners are developing templates for integrating and assessing information from clinical studies on complementary and alternative therapies into responsible medical practice.
The term nutraceutical was originally defined by Dr. Stephen L. DeFelice, founder and chairman of the Foundation of Innovation Medicine (FIM), Crawford, New Jersey.
Since the term was coined by Dr. DeFelice, its meaning has been modified by Health Canada which defines nutraceutical as: a product isolated or purified from foods, and generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with food and demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease.
Examples: beta-carotene, lycopene.
Nutraceutical foods are not subject to the same testing and regulations as pharmaceutical drugs.
The following is an incomplete list of foods with reported medicinal value:
- Antioxidants: resveratrol from red grape products; flavonoids inside citrus, tea, wine, and dark chocolate foods; anthocyanins found in berries
- Reducing hypercholesterolemia: soluble dietary fiber products, such as psyllium seed husk
- Cancer prevention: broccoli (sulforaphane) fiddleheads (Matteuccia Struthiopteus)
- Improved arterial health: soy or clover (isoflavonoids)
- Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease: alpha-linolenic acid from flax or Chia seeds
In addition, many botanical and herbal extracts such as ginseng, garlic oil, etc. have been developed as nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals are often used in nutrient premixes or nutrient systems in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
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