Plants are a rich source of essential nutrients for the human body. Plants provide proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids in nutrition. These are called macronutrients and regular ingestion maintains good health. A notable role of plants in human nutritional value is to provide micronutrients. They contain a multitude of micronutrients including minerals and vitamins. They are required in less quantity than macronutrients. Failure to achieve optimal levels in the body leads to the impairment of several normal functions.
Many vitamins and minerals are associated with specific mechanisms in the body. Plants rich in antioxidants help protect the body against the action of harmful materials. Various disease-causing factors lead to the accumulation of free radicals. Excess accumulation with the absence of counteractive mechanisms causes oxidative stress. This phenomenon is known to be the root cause of different chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s diseases.
Oxidative stress involves a series of reactions caused by free radical species. They attack the cellular membranes of cells in the diseased tissue. Antioxidants derived from plants provide protection against the effects of such harmful compounds. The toxic state is neutralized and further attacks are prevented. Diet lacking in plant-based foods involves a greater risk of chronic diseases.
Plants are a major component of medicinal preparations along with food. This practice dates back to ancient times. Modern techniques utilize plant-derived secondary metabolites to incorporate the beneficial effects. They are also used in crude form in traditional medicine. People in areas lacking modern facilities use ground-up herbs and spices for daily remedies.
The use of plant-derived compounds for the sole treatment of various diseases is under consideration. Synthetic drugs provide effective treatment but resistance is increasing every day. A wide range of side effects also renders synthetic drugs undesirable. Previous studies have shown promising results in the use of plant-derived compounds against diseases.
D.E.M. Radwan along with a team of researchers studied the medicinal properties of wild plants seed extracts. The samples for the experiments were collected from different Jazan regions, southwest of Saudi Arabia. The research showed high antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The team published their findings in the Research Journal of Medicinal Plants.
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