Exploring Bioactive Compounds in Underutilized Fruit Crops of Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: A Comprehensive Review

Gargi Poonia

Department of Horticulture, School of Agriculture, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, Punjab, 144411, India.

Sandeep Kumar *

Department of Horticulture, School of Agriculture, Lovely Professional University, Phagwara, Punjab, 144411, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Abstract

Exploring the bioactive compounds in underutilized fruit crops of arid regions reveals a wealth of phytochemicals, including polyphenols, vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, and carotenoids. These compounds exhibit significant health benefits, evidenced through both in vitro and in vivo studies, demonstrating antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic and neuroactive properties. This review delves into the bioactive compounds found in fruits of arid and semi-arid regions, highlighting their phytochemical compositions and their potential in preventing chronic diseases, thereby enhancing human health. Underutilized fruit crops, typically grown and consumed locally rather than being commercially cultivated or widely traded, offer several advantages. They are easier to grow, more resilient to climate change, and exceptionally rich in phytochemicals with medicinal properties. These fruits, such as Indian jujube, Indian gooseberry, bael, and tamarind, among others, are valuable for their high nutritional content and potential to meet the dietary needs of rural populations in arid regions. Local knowledge attests to their nutritional and medicinal benefits, necessitating rigorous study for conservation and nutritional characterization to broaden future food options and enhance functional and nutritional values. This review outlines the ethnobotany, medicinal and nutritional values, biodiversity conservation, and utilization strategies for significant underutilized fruit crops from arid and semi-arid regions. These fruits are rich in diverse phytochemical compounds like flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, saponins, glycosides, and alkaloids, which are utilized to treat various health conditions in humans and livestock. Their extracts demonstrate a range of activities, including antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antimicrobial, antiplasmodial and antinociceptive effects. Highlighting the current research on the nutritional profiling, chemical composition, and potential applications of these fruits, this chapter addresses the knowledge gap concerning the health benefits of consuming arid and semi-arid fruits. This is particularly relevant given the growing interest in "superfoods" and the need for evidence-based public health guidelines to inform consumers about the benefits of polyphenol-rich plant foods in preventing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Keywords: Flavonoids, tannins, terpenoids, saponins, antimicrobial, hypolipidemic, neuroactive


How to Cite

Poonia, Gargi, and Sandeep Kumar. 2024. “Exploring Bioactive Compounds in Underutilized Fruit Crops of Arid and Semi-Arid Regions: A Comprehensive Review”. Journal of Scientific Research and Reports 30 (7):728-42. https://doi.org/10.9734/jsrr/2024/v30i72184.

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