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Antioxidants occur naturally in food and natural health products or are added to them
intentionally to extend their shelf life, or are used as supplements to improve health
status. The oxidation of food, mainly its lipid components, leads to off-flavor development and spoilage. Thus, control of oxidative processes is of interest to scientists,
manufacturers, and consumers. In the body, oxidants are by-products of normal metabolism that, if not properly controlled, result in oxidation and eventual damage to DNA,
proteins, lipids, and sugar molecules. Oxidation of these biomolecules in the body leads
to a number of degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataract,
immune system decline, and brain dysfunction as well as the aging process.
Dietary antioxidants have been of much interest in recent years due to their promised health benefits. However, one should know that while important in food preservation and health promotion at moderate levels, excessive use of antioxidants, especially
fat-soluble ones, may lead to deleterious effects as these compounds may serve as
double-edged swords and become prooxidants at high concentrations. Therefore,
optimum consumption of antioxidants and their responsible use is recommended.
This handbook reports on the types of antioxidants for food preservation and their
best selection and optimum performance in different foods. It covers topics related to
carotenoids, synthetic phenolics, amino acids, peptides and proteins, natural phenolics
including tocopherols and their role as free radical scavengers and chelators of prooxidative metal ions. In addition, use of rosemary, tea and other natural plant extracts,
including a range of other plant-based products herbs and spices are covered. Methods
of assessing antioxidant activity, synergistic interactions are covered. The effectiveness and performance of antioxidants in bulk oil, emulsions as well as in cereals and
low-moisture foods and ready-to-eat and cook-chill products, and finally snack foods
are also detailed in this handbook. The book has been organized in such a way as
to provide a smooth flow of material, while chapters retain their independence from
each other. It would serve as a reference resource for food scientists, technologists,
nutritionists, and health professionals in academia, government labs, and industries.
Both fundamental and applied information are provided to benefit those with different
backgrounds. It may also serve as a potential textbook for senior undergraduate and
graduate students in relevant disciplines.
Fereidoon Shahidi