Secondary Metabolites and Nutraceuticals

Secondary metabolites are organic compounds produced by bacteria, fungi, or plants which are not directly involved in the normal growth, development, or reproduction of the organism. Secondary metabolites often play an important role in plant defense against herbivory and other interspecies defenses. Humans use secondary metabolites as medicines, flavorings, pigments, and recreational drugs.

Some researchers believe that certain secondary metabolite volatiles are responsible for human food preferences that may be evolutionarily based in nutritional food. This area of interest has not been thoroughly researched, but has interesting implications for human preference. Many secondary metabolites aid the plant in gaining essential nutrients, such as nitrogen.

Nutraceutical is a pharmaceutical-grade and standardized nutrient. Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods.

Such products may claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body.

A market research report produced in 2012 projected that the worldwide nutraceuticals market would reach US$250 billion by 2018, defining that market as "Dietary Supplements (Vitamins, Minerals, Herbals, Non-Herbals, & Others), and Functional Foods & Beverages.

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