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Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):223S-229S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/81.1.223S.

Polyphenols in foods are more complex than often thought.

Author information

1
INRA-Unité Mixte de Recherche Sciences Pour l'Cenologie, Montpellier, France. cheynier@ensam.inra.fr

Abstract

Dietary polyphenols show a great diversity of structures, ranging from rather simple molecules (monomers and oligomers) to polymers. Higher-molecular-weight structures (with molecular weights of > 500) are usually designated as tannins, which refers to their ability to interact with proteins. Among them, condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins) are particularly important because of their wide distribution in plants and their contributions to major food qualities. All phenolic compounds are highly unstable and rapidly transformed into various reaction products when the plant cells are damaged (for instance, during food processing), thus adding to the complexity of dietary polyphenol composition. The polyphenol composition of plant-derived foods and beverages depends on that of the raw material used but also on the extraction process and subsequent biochemical and chemical reactions of plant polyphenols. The occurrence of specific tannin-like compounds (ie, thearubigins and theaflavins) arising from enzymatic oxidation is well documented in black tea. Various chemical reactions involving anthocyanins and/or flavanols have been demonstrated to occur during red wine aging. Current knowledge regarding the reaction mechanisms involved in some of these processes and the structures of the resulting products is reviewed. Their effects on organoleptic and nutritional quality are also discussed.

PMID:
15640485
DOI:
10.1093/ajcn/81.1.223S
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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