A focus on four popular "functional foods" as part of a strategy to combat metabolic disease through the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
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Fruit and vegetable consumption is on the rise as an increasing number of people recognize their health promoting effects, which are mediated through phytochemicals with disease combatting properties. The aim of this paper is to identify the potential benefits of fruits and vegetables in chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension. An electronic search of databases such as Pubmed Central, Science Direct and Web of Science from the last 5 years was conducted. Four commonly consumed edible fruit and vegetables, namely, Hypoxis hemmerocallidea (African potato), Moringa oleifera (Moringa), Persea americana (Avocado) and Psidium guajava (Guava) and their potential role in the prevention and management of metabolic syndrome and other disorders, are presented. In this narrative review plant uses extend beyond traditional medicine and include usage in food preparation, beverages, as part of fragrances, culinary flavouring, as well as cosmetic use, but more importantly have potential in contributing to the amelioration of the deleterious effects of diseases/health conditions. In addressing disease states, including metabolic syndrome and other disorders, the interest in medicinal plants continues to grow with the possibility of novel compounds and/or new drug discovery. Alternative and affordable methods of large scale harvesting of medicinal plants, as well as identification and specificity of bioactive compounds as future therapeutics are essential for sustainability.