Seeds Botanical Description

A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored foods. Seeds serve several functions for the plant. Keys among these functions are nourishment of the embryo, dispersal to a new location, and dormancy during unfavorable conditions. Seeds are classified into beans, also called legumes or pulses; cereals (including pseudocereals); and some nuts. "Bean" is the common name for a large plant seed of several genera of the family Fabaceae used for human or animal food. The main edible seeds are summarized in Table 11.1. Pulse grains contain a large number of bioactive compounds which have a metabolic benefit when consumed on a regular basis (Rochfort & Panozzo, 2007).

PROTEIN KINASES

CELL CYCLE

METASTASIS

CELL DIFFERENTIATION

TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS

CELL ADHESION MOLECULES

PROAPOPTOTIC PROTEINS

CELL PROLIFERATION GROWTH FACTOR PATHWAYS

METASTASIS

CELL ADHESION MOLECULES

CELL DIFFERENTIATION

TRANSCRIPTION FACTORS

ANTIAPOPTOTIC PROTEINS

ANTIAPOPTOTIC PROTEINS

PROAPOPTOTIC PROTEINS

FIGURE 11.2

Molecular targets of bioactive phytochemicals. Phytochemicals act on the cell cycle, cell proliferation and differentiation, apoptosis, metastasis, protein kinases, cell adhesion molecules, transcription factors, and growth factor pathways.

Cereals, grains, or cereal grains are the edible seeds or grains of the grass family Graminae. The main cereals are summarized in Table 11.2. Based on epidemiological studies and biologically plausible mechanisms, scientific evidence shows that regular consumption of whole-grain foods may help mitigate oxidative-stress related disease conditions, cardiovascular disorders, and certain cancers (Aisbitt et al., 2008). "Nut" is a general term for a large, dry, oily seed or fruit of some plants. Nuts are produced by plants from the families Fagaceae and Betulaceae. The main seed nuts are summarized in Table 11.3.

This chapter summarizes the main components contained in seeds for which cancer-preventive properties have been reported.

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