Special Issue "Phytochemical Diversity of Plant-Based Foods and Implications for Health and Prevention of Disease"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Chemical Diversity and Chemical Ecology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 2566

Special Issue Editors

SARChI National Research Chair in Indigenous Plant Use, Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, P.O. Box 524, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
Interests: plant systematics; plant taxonomy; Apiaceae (Umbelliferae); Fabaceae (Leguminosae); chemosystematics; useful plants; medicinal plants; ethnobotany
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg (Auckland Park Campus), P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, Johannesburg 2006, South Africa
Interests: pharmacology; natural products; pharmacokinetics; microbiology; phytochemistry; taxonomy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, the chemical diversity of foods has become a point of interest in the new paradigm of health and longevity. It is now realized that foods that are rich in phytochemicals can prevent diseases by providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, among others. In essence, studies that describe antioxidant teas, polyphenol-rich vegetables and grains, anti-inflammatory terpenes and prebiotic non-starch polysaccharides are highlighting foods that can prevent lifestyle diseases if they are included in the diet over the long term.

The modern human diet is generally deficient in phytochemicals, particularly in developed nations that subsist on processed staple food diets. This is because, over the course of thousands of years, human selection of agriculture hybrids has created staple crops that give high yields of nutrient-deficient carbohydrate-rich organs that are sweet tasting but unfortunately obesogenic. Hence, modern diets promote cardiovascular disorders that intensify over generations with the accumulation of epigenetic changes. The scientific community is now encouraging a new human diet that puts the phytochemical diversity back into foods to counter the grim prognosis of the human species.

There are several exciting new food technology developments that are taking shape in commerce in the form of wild crop relatives or traditional foods. Fortunately, ‘wild foods’ that are utilized in traditional societies have not been subjected to the same selective breeding as familiar agricultural breeds, so their chemical diversity is maintained. Hence, as previously mentioned, chemical studies of traditional foods and beverages, their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticoagulant, and prebiotic effects are positive reinforcement of the potential to prevent disease progression.

We encourage submission of papers that will help to build on the growing body of research on chemically diverse foods to enrich the world’s palate of healthy alternatives that may, one day, take shape in a commercial setting.

Prof. Dr. Ben-Erik Van Wyk
Dr. Nicholas J. Sadgrove
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Diversity is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • antioxidant
  • polyphenol
  • total phenolics
  • anti-inflammatory
  • prebiotic
  • anticoagulant

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Are South African Wild Foods the Answer to Rising Rates of Cardiovascular Disease?
Diversity 2022, 14(12), 1014; https://doi.org/10.3390/d14121014 - 22 Nov 2022
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The rising burden of cardiovascular disease in South Africa gives impetus to managerial changes, particularly to the available foods in the market. Since there are many economically disadvantaged groups in urban societies who are at the forefront of the CVD burden, initiatives to [...] Read more.
The rising burden of cardiovascular disease in South Africa gives impetus to managerial changes, particularly to the available foods in the market. Since there are many economically disadvantaged groups in urban societies who are at the forefront of the CVD burden, initiatives to make healthier foods available should focus on affordability in conjunction with improved phytochemical diversity to incentivize change. The modern obesogenic diet is deficient in phytochemicals that are protective against the metabolic products of sugar metabolism, i.e., inflammation, reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial fatigue, whereas traditional southern African food species have high phytochemical diversity and are also higher in soluble dietary fibres that modulate the release of sugars from starches, nurture the microbiome and produce digestive artefacts that are prophylactic against cardiovascular disease. The examples of indigenous southern African food species with high horticultural potential that can be harvested sustainably to feed a large market of consumers include: Aloe marlothii, Acanthosicyos horridus, Adansonia digitata, Aloe ferox, Amaranthus hybridus, Annesorhiza nuda, Aponogeton distachyos, Bulbine frutescens, Carpobrotus edulis, Citrullus lanatus, Dioscorea bulbifera, Dovyalis caffra, Eleusine coracana, Lagenaria siceraria, Mentha longifolia, Momordica balsamina, Pelargonium crispum, Pelargonium sidoides, Pennisetum glaucum, Plectranthus esculentus, Schinziophyton rautanenii, Sclerocarya birrea, Solenostemon rotundifolius, Talinum caffrum, Tylosema esculentum, Vigna unguiculata and Vigna subterranea. The current review explains the importance of phytochemical diversity in the human diet, it gives a lucid explanation of phytochemical groups and links the phytochemical profiles of these indigenous southern African foods to their protective effects against cardiovascular disease. Full article
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