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Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Jun;56(4):200-7.

Polyphenols: do they play a role in the prevention of human pathologies?

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Faculté de Pharmacie, Université de Paris, CNRS UMR, Chatenay Malabry, France.


Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in our diets. The main classes of polyphenols are phenolic acids (mainly caffeic acid) and flavonoids (the most abundant in the diet are flavanols (catechins plus proanthocyanidins), anthocyanins and their oxidation products), which account for one- and two-thirds, respectively. Polyphenols are reducing agents, and together with other dietary reducing agents, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids, referred to as antioxidants, protect the body's tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as cancers, coronary heart disease and inflammation. The biological properties, bioavailability, antioxidant activity, specific interactions with cell receptors and enzymes, are related to the chemical structure of polyphenols. It is, therefore, essential to know the nature of the main polyphenols ingested, their dietary origin, the amounts consumed in different diets, their bioavailability and the factors controlling their bioavailability.

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