Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2018 May 24;58(8):1260-1270. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2016.1251390. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Inflammation is the first biological response of the immune system to infection, injury or irritation. Evidence suggests that the anti-inflammatory effect is mediated through the regulation of various inflammatory cytokines, such as nitric oxide, interleukins, tumor necrosis factor alpha-α, interferon gamma-γ as well as noncytokine mediator, prostaglandin E2. Fruits, vegetables, and food legumes contain high levels of phytochemicals that show anti-inflammatory effect, but their mechanisms of actions have not been completely identified. The aim of this paper was to summarize the recent investigations and findings regarding in vitro and animal model studies on the anti-inflammatory effects of fruits, vegetables, and food legumes. Specific cytokines released for specific type of physiological event might shed some light on the specific use of each source of phytochemicals that can benefit to counter the inflammatory response. As natural modulators of proinflammatory gene expressions, phytochemical from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes could be incorporated into novel bioactive anti-inflammatory formulations of various nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. Finally, these phytochemicals are discussed as the natural promotion strategy for the improvement of human health status. The phenolics and triterpenoids in fruits and vegetables showed higher anti-inflammatory activity than other compounds. In food legumes, lectins and peptides had anti-inflammatory activity in most cases. However, there are lack of human study data on the anti-inflammatory activity of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes.

Keywords: Fruits and vegetables; animal model; anti-inflammatory property; food legumes; phytochemicals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Fabaceae / chemistry*
  • Food Analysis
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Vegetables / chemistry*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Phytochemicals