Evaluation of functional potentiality of selected commonly consumed foods of Bangladesh


  • Nazma Shaheen Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS), University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
  • Avonti Basak Tukun
  • Saiful Islam
  • Nafis Md. Irfan
  • Ishrat Nourin Khan
  • Towhid Hasan




Background: Rising tide of chronic nutrition related non-communicable diseases yoked with extant under nutrition problems makes it imperative to carry out scientific research for finding functional foods. Although the emergence of these diseases are believed to be related to a constellation of dietary, socio-economic and lifestyle related risk factors, central to the pathogenesis of these diseases (or disease states) are free radicals, oxidative stress, and inflammatory processes typically accompanied by pain. Therefore, functional whole foods with physiologically active antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic compounds seem to be the most promising option to deal with the pathogenesis of existing and emerging chronic diseases burden of Bangladesh.

Methods: Edible portions of 70 commonly consumed Bangladeshi foods – including one cereal, five legumes, fourteen vegetables, four tea varieties, five oil seeds, twenty spices, and twenty one fruits – were evaluated for total phenol content (TPC) by Folin-Ciocalteau assay. To evaluate functional potentiality, in vitro antioxidant capacity (AC) of selected food items were evaluated by DPPH radical scavenging assays, in vitro anti-inflammatory potential by observing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α using J774A.1 cells stimulated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), in vivo anti-inflammatory potential by measuring carrageenan induced rat paw edema reduction and in vivo analgesic potential by acetic acid induced writhing test in mice. 

Results: Spices, oilseeds, and teas showed high concentration of TPC among the analysed foods while spices and teas exhibited notable AC. Green tea showed highest concentrations of TPC (2349 mg Gallic Acid Equivalent / g) and AC (2432 µmole Trolox Equivalent/g).  Fourteen food items showed potential in vitro anti-inflammatory activity with confirmatory dose response effect shown by 8 items. In vivo, black sesame and yellow mustard expressed anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in a dose dependent manner.

Conclusion: This study found commonly consumed food items representing different food groups of Bangladesh to contain diverse range of polyphenols and antioxidant capacities. Of these, black sesame and yellow mustard demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic potential in animal model. The findings of this study can be used to promote polyphenols rich foods through dietary guidelines and facilitate epidemiological research investigating diet-disease relationships.


Author Biography

  • Nazma Shaheen, Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS), University of Dhaka, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh

    Nazma Shaheen, Professor in the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka. Currently, working as Director, Institute of Nutrition and Food Science (INFS), University of Dhaka. She received her BSc and MSc degrees in Biochemistry from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Dhaka and doctorate degree in Biochemistry from Kagoshima University, Japan. She received higher professional training in epidemiology, biostatistics and nutrition. She has 28 years’ experience of teaching and research in the field of nutrition particularly micronutrient malnutrition and assessment of nutrition and health status. It is notable that she has been leading the production, management and use of food composition data in the south Asian countries as the Focal Person of Bangladesh for INFOODS‟ “SAARCFOODS” – forum for Food Composition Database (FCDB) for SAARC countries.


    Professor Nazma has worked with several national and international research organizations, GO and NGOs focusing on elimination of malnutrition among vulnerable groups. She conducted/supervised an appreciable number of significant research projects/surveys over the years with Government of Bangladesh (MoF, MoA, MoE, MoHFW), UNICEF, FAO, Alive & Thrive, WFP, GAIN, HDRC, ALRD etc.

    Simultaneously, Professor Nazma has involved in the research to screen the foods of Bangladesh for phenolic compounds, antioxidant activities and their food functionality e.g. ati-inflammatory, anti-allergic etc. Most recently, Nazma has led the team as the principal investigator for updating the Food Composition Table for Bangladesh after 37 years to generate reliable and comprehensive data source to enable accurate assessment of dietary intake. Prof. Shaheen is an author of one book and significant number of research articles published in reputed international journals with high impact factor. Her most recent publications include “Presence of heavy metals in fruits and vegetables: Health risk implications in Bangladesh (Chemosphere 2016)”, “Pregnant women diet quality and its socio-demographic determinants in south-western Bangladesh ( Food and Nutrition Bulletin 2016)”, A comprehensive assessment of arsenic in commonly consumed foodstuffs to evaluate the potential health risk in Bangladesh (Science of the Total Environment, 2015)” ,“Antioxidant capacity and total phenolic contents in hydrophilic extracts of selected Bangladeshi medicinal plants (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 2014 )” and “Antioxidant Capacity and Total Phenol Content of Commonly Consumed Indigenous Foods of Asian Tropical Region (Journal of Food Science and Engineering, 2012). She is currently engaged in the capacity building for food composition, functionality and nutrition oriented activities in the South Asian region.

    Recent and Current research involvement:

    • Subproject Manager of the World Bank funded HEQEP project “Advancement of Food Composition Activities of the Centre for Advanced Research in Sciences with a State-of-the-Art Instrumentation Laboratory” (2014-2017).
    • Worked as the principal investigator in the UNICEF funded project “Study to Assess Anaemia and Iron Deficiency Among Pregnant Women Living in Areas With Low and High Ground Water with Iron: Implications for IFA Supplementation Programme” (2015).
    • Conducted the end line survey of the FAO funded project “Improving food security of women and children by enhancing backyard and small-scale poultry production in the southern delta region” (2015).
    • Conducted the end line survey of the FAO funded project “Integrated agriculture interventions for improved food and nutrition security in selected districts of southern Bangladesh” (2015).






Research Articles