Plant tocopherols and phytosterols and their bioactive properties

Pradip Poudel, Spyridon A. Petropoulos, Francesco Di Gioia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Tocopherols and phytosterols are plant-derived fat-soluble bioactive compounds with several health beneficial properties. Tocopherols are mainly known for their antioxidant activity, while phytosterols are well known for their capacity to lower blood cholesterol levels in the human body. Plants produce these compounds for their own protection against oxidative damages and to maintain cell integrity. Including plant-based food in the daily meal plan, especially vegetable oil, fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruits, helps to fulfill our dietary needs for tocopherols and phytosterols. After briefly describing the biochemistry, biosynthesis and the important role these two categories of compounds play in the plant physiology, this chapter provides an overview of (i) the primary plant sources of tocopherols and phytosterols, summarizing some of the factors that determine their concentration in plants; and (ii) the main health-promoting effects that have been reported recently for both categories of bioactive compounds. While more research is needed to unravel the health effects of tocopherols and phytosterols, additional research effort is needed to identify alternative low-cost sources of these valuable compounds, using, for example, by-products and waste of the agri-food industry. Future research should also focus on the development of functional food products employing sustainable biofortification techniques that may allow to enhance the content and bioavailability of tocopherols and phytosterols in commonly consumed plant and plant-derived food products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNatural Secondary Metabolites
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Nature, Through Science, to Industry
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9783031185878
ISBN (Print)9783031185861
StatePublished - Feb 21 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Medicine


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