There are certain things required by living organisms for survival and an example of such is food.
What is Food?
Food is any nutritious substance that is consumed by humans or animals and even plants in order for growth to occur. The basic function of the food consumed by living organisms is for it to keep us alive and healthy. There are two major sources of food and they are;
- Plant sources of food
- Animal sources of food
Plant Sources of Food
What are plants?
Plants are eukaryotic autotrophs that produce their food through the process of photosynthesis. In the ecological pyramid, plants are the primary producers of food. They serve as food sources to other living organisms such as humans and animals.
Plants contain carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins and fibre which helps in sustaining living organisms. A plant contains different edible parts and these edible parts of plants are;
Examples of plants with edible fruits; apple, orange, mango, pears, bananas, grapes etc.
Examples of plants with edible stems; onion, potatoes, ginger, garlic, tumeric.
Examples of plants with edible leaves; water leaf, moringa, spinach, mint, parsley.
Examples of plants with edible flowers; marigolds, honeysuckle, scarlet runner beans.
Examples of plants with edible roots; carrot, turnips, tapioca.
Examples of plants with edible seeds are; groundnut, sesame, mustard, sunflower seeds etc.
These edible parts of plants are consumed by other living organisms.
Plants contain pigments. Pigments are known to be organic compounds responsible for the different coloration in plants. These pigments give the flowers, fruits, leaves and seeds of plants their various colors. There are three major types of plants pigments and they are;
Chlorophyll is the green coloration (pigments) found in plants and it is involved in the process of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll helps in boosting the red blood cells, weight loss, neutralization of toxins, healing of damaged skin and the prevention of cancer. There are four types of chlorophyll and they are;
- Chlorophyll a – It is found in all types of higher plants and cyanobacteria.
- Chlorophyll b – It is found in all higher plants and algae.
- Chlorophyll c – It is found in diatoms, dinoflagellates and brown algae.
- Chlorophyll d – It is found only in red algae.
Carotenoids are another set of pigments found in plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria. These pigments produce colors such as yellow, orange and red in plants. Carotenoids are beneficial to the human body because they contain antioxidants which help in protecting the human body from diseases and they also enhance the body’s immune system and eye health. Examples of foods high in carotenoids include;
- Egg yolks
- Pumpkin etc.
Types of Carotenoids
There are three known types of carotenoids and they are;
- β-carotene, and
Flavonoids are plant pigments/bioactive polyphenols with variable phenolic structures found in fruits and vegetables. They are found in fruits such as berries and in veggies such as red cabbage, onions, kale, parsley, tea etc and they are also found in red wine and dark chocolate.
Types of Flavonoids
There are six major groups of flavonoids and they are;
Anthoxanthins (Flavones and Flavonols)
Anthoxanthins which contain flavones and flavonols are types of flavonoid pigments that are present in plants. These anthoxanthins are water soluble pigments ranging from colors white to colorless to a creamy to yellow color usually found in petals of flowers and other food sources containing them. Anthoxanthins are contained in foods such as;
Anthoxanthins are similar to the group of pigments called anthocyanins but the difference between the two is that anthoxanthins exist in a less oxidized state as the oxygen found in its central group is uncharged. Anthoxanthins possess antioxidant properties and they are used in the food industry as additives because of their nutritional value.
Types of Anthocyanins
These are plant pigments (flavonoids) found in food such as red wine, onion, green tea, apples and berries. These flavonoids protect the heart against heart relates diseases and it also protects the body from cancer.
Betaxanthin are betalain pigments responsible for the yellow coloring found in some plants and vegetables.
Canthaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigments responsible for the orange-red color found in some plants. These pigments are used as food coloring agents and they are found in food such as mushrooms, fish, eggs etc.
Similarities between Anthoxanthins and Anthocyanins
The following are the similarities between anthoxanthins and anthocyanins
- Anthoxanthins and anthocyanins are both plant pigments.
- They are both classified as flavonoids.
- They are water soluble.
- They both possess antioxidant properties.
Differences Between Anthoxanthins and Anthocyanins
|Plants containing anthoxanthins have white, creamy or yellow pigments.||Plants containing anthocyanins have blue, red or purple pigments that help prevent diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.|
|Anthoxanthins are used as food additives.||Anthocyanins are used as potent pharmaceuticals and food colorants.|
|Types of anthoxanthins are Quercetin, Betaxanthin and Canthaxanthin||Types of Anthocyanins are cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin, and malvidin.|
Properties of Anthoxanthins
- Anthoxanthins are water soluble.
- They range from color white to colorless to a creamy or yellow color
- They are white when placed in acid mediums and yellowed when placed in alkaline mediums.
Health Benefits of Anthoxanthins
Anthoxanthins contained in fruits and vegetables contain the right nutrients to preserve the body’s immune system.
They also contain antioxidants which helps the body lower the risk of certain diseases.