Many epidemiological studies have provided evidence that a high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk for the development of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Fruits and vegetables are known to contain health promoting components such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibers, however, it is unclear which of these are responsible for the health promoting properties of fruits and vegetables. Aliphatic C(17)-polyacetylenes of the falcarinol type, which occur in common food plants of the Apiaceae family such as carrot, celeriac, parsnip and parsley, have demonstrated interesting bioactivities including antibacterial, antimycobacterial, and antifungal activity as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet-aggregatory, neuritogenic and serotonergic effects. In addition, the cytotoxicity of falcarinol type polyacetylenes towards human cancer cells, bioavailability, and their potential anticancer effect in vivo indicates that these compounds may contribute to the health effects of certain vegetables and hence could be important nutraceuticals. The bioactivity of falcarinol type polyacetylenes occurring in food plants of the Apiaceae family, their possible mode of action and possible health promoting effects are discussed in this review as well as the effect of storage, processing and other factors that can influence the content of these compounds in particular root vegetables and products. Moreover, recent patents on bioactivity of falcarinol type polyacetylenes and inventions making use of this knowledge are presented and discussed.