Plant pigments as dietary anticancer agents

Ravi Kant Upadhyay


Present review article explains the dietary use of plant pigments and therapeutic effects against cancer. Important plant pigments such as anthocyanins, lycopene, carotenoids, chlorophyll, and betalains are explained for their anticancer effects. Plant pigments are secondary metabolites which obstruct cancer cell proliferation; stop growth and cell division in cancer cells. These inhibit cellular processes in cancer cells such as signaling pathways, cell cycle, induce apoptosis, and autophagy. Besides, anticancer activity these also assist in controlling high blood pressure, obesity, hyperglycemia, hypercholesterolemia, and restore cardiovascular problems. A full series of pigments is available in various plants families which might show protective effects against cancer. Plant pigments are edible, nutritionally rich and therapeutically suitable. Due to their health-promoting effects there is a growing public interest to consume green vegetables, fruits, sprouted seeds, pigmented cereals, and processed low energy antioxidative functional food. For widening their use, these could be harvested using recombinant gene technology to add to processed foods as a coloring agent. Plant pigments as natural plant products or its by-products are highly useful for the development of a large variety of functional foods, digestive ingredients, additives, as well as cosmetic products. These could be naturally added to genetically suitable modified foods by applying genomic tools. No doubt plant secondary metabolites will also fulfill needs of present-day medicine and show great promise for the future.

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