Functional foods, herbs and nutraceuticals: towards biochemical mechanisms of healthy aging

Biogerontology. 2004;5(5):275-89. doi: 10.1007/s10522-004-2566-z.


Aging is associated with mitochondrial dysfunctions, which trigger membrane leakage, release of reactive species from oxygen and nitrogen and subsequent induction of peroxidative reactions that result in biomolecules' damaging and releasing of metals with amplification of free radicals discharge. Free radicals induce neuronal cell death increasing tissue loss, which could be associated with memory detriment. These pathological events are involved in cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and carcinogenic processes. Dietary bioactive compounds from different functional foods, herbs and nutraceuticals (ginseng, ginkgo, nuts, grains, tomato, soy phytoestrogens, curcumin, melatonin, polyphenols, antioxidant vitamins, carnitine, carnosine, ubiquinone, etc.) can ameliorate or even prevent diseases. Protection from chronic diseases of aging involves antioxidant activities, mitochondrial stabilizing functions, metal chelating activities, inhibition of apoptosis of vital cells, and induction of cancer cell apoptosis. Functional foods and nutraceuticals constitute a great promise to improve health and prevent aging-related chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Food*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Herbal Medicine*
  • Homocysteine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / physiopathology
  • Oxidative Stress


  • Antioxidants
  • Chelating Agents
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Homocysteine