Role of phytochemicals in the management of metabolic syndrome

Phytomedicine. 2016 Oct 15;23(11):1134-44. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2015.11.009. Epub 2015 Dec 11.


Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) for some years has been focusing on what is now commonly referred to as an "epidemic of obesity and diabetes" ("diabesity"): behind this outbreak, there are several risk factors grouped in what is called "metabolic syndrome" (MetS). The basis of this "epidemic" is either a diet too often characterized by excessive consumption of saturated and trans-esterified fatty acids, simple sugars and salt, either a sedentary lifestyle.

Purpose: The aim of this review is to focus on the phytochemicals that have a more positive effect on the treatment and/or prevention of MetS.

Chapters: Treatment strategies for MetS include pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic options, with varying degrees of success rate. The first is indicated for patients with high cardiovascular risk, while the second one is the most cost-effective preventive approach for subjects with borderline parameters and for patients intolerant to pharmacological therapy. MetS non-pharmacological treatments could involve the use of nutraceuticals, most of which has plant origins (phytochemicals), associated with lifestyle improvement. The chapter will discuss the available evidence on soluble fibres from psyllium and other sources, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and other cinnamon phytochemicals, berberine, corosolic acid from banaba, charantin from bitter gourd, catechins and flavonols from green tea and cocoa. Vegetable omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, alliin from garlic, soy peptides, and curcumin from curcuma longa.

Conclusion: Some nutraceuticals, when adequately dosed, should improve a number of the MetS components.

Keywords: Dyslipidaemia; Hypertension; Insulin resistance; Metabolic syndrome; Nutraceuticals; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives
  • Acrolein / pharmacology
  • Berberine / pharmacology
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Cinnamates / pharmacology
  • Curcumin / pharmacology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Flavonols / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Psyllium


  • Cinnamates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Flavonols
  • Phytochemicals
  • Berberine
  • Acrolein
  • Psyllium
  • Catechin
  • Curcumin
  • cinnamic aldehyde
  • cinnamic acid