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Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of roots, tubers and vegetables commonly consumed in India

Excess free radical production underlies the pathogenesis of diseases like atherosclerosis, carcinogenesis, diabetes, cataract and accelerated ageing. Robust epidemiological evi-dence suggests the crucial role of diets in preventing chronic degenerative diseases. Plant derived phenolic compounds are reported to have multiple biological effects including antioxidant activity. It is hypothesized that phytochemicals in plant foods exert health beneficial effects because they combat oxidative stress in body by maintaining a balance between oxidants and antioxidants. In recent times natural antioxidants have raised considerable interest among nutritionists, food manufacturers and consumers because of their presumed safety and potential therapeutic value. Indeed, recent research trends indicate a shift towards identifying non nutritional functional foods. More than 5000 phytochemicals have been identified in plants and many more remain to be identified. Therefore, food industry is concentrating on plant phenolics since they retard oxidative degradation of bio-molecules like lipids, DNA and proteins.