Plant-Based Polysaccharides and their Health Functions
Plants are valuable source of polysaccharides that make a large portion of our daily diet. These are natural polymers that are essential to sustain life. They provide high-value nutrition and positively help the immune system and improve the digestive properties. They also help in the elimination of toxic by-products from the human body. Polysaccharides and human health are inextricably linked and intertwined. These are also important components of the cell wall that provides its strength and integrity. Due to their indispensable role in human health, it is very important to know the different modifications and loss of nutritional value during the processing of plant material. Nowadays, these plant-based polysaccharides are used for diverse applications including wound dressing, drug delivery, laxative, cosmetic and pharmaceutical preparations. As an emerging area of plant-based medicines to reduce the side effects of synthetic sources, these polysaccharides are used to enhance the immunogenic response against a specific antigen. This review envisages some important polysaccharides (e.g. mucilages and gums, glycosamine glycans and chitin/chitosan) and their medical, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications, with emphasis on the relationship between their structure and function.
Keywords: Polysaccharides; Nutrition; Health Functions; Cosmetics; Vaccine; Nutraceuticals
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