Most diseases that are difficult to prevent and cure are “syndromes” that are governed by multiple components with complicated interactions. Whatever the cause of such diseases, overproduction of harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS) can often be observed in progression of the disease. Under such conditions, the cells may be challenged by “oxidative stress” due to excessively generated oxidants. Antioxidants can be defined as chemical compounds that scavenge ROS or free radicals over-produced in the cells under oxidative stress conditions. The plant pigments flavonoids and betalains, rich in fruits and vegetables, are reactive not only with ROS but also with reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and possibly with reactive sulfur species (RSS). Here, we provide an overview of updates on the antioxidative functions of the plant pigments along with some prospects for future research on phytochemical antioxidants.
Part of the book: Antioxidants