Chemistry and Biochemistry of Dietary Polyphenols

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Nutrients 2010, 2, 1231-1246; doi:10.3390/nu2121231 Review Chemistry and Biochemistry of Dietary Polyphenols Rong Tsao * Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, 93 Stone Road West, Guelph Ontario, N1G 5C9, Canada; E-Mail: rong.cao@agr.gc.ca; Tel.: +1-519-780-8062; Fax: +1-519-829-2600 Received: 30 October 2010; in revised form: 29 November 2010 / Accepted: 9 December 2010 / Published: 10 December 2010 Abstract: Polyphenols are the biggest group of phytochemicals, and many of them have been found in plant-based foods. Polyphenol-rich diets have been linked to many health benefits. This paper is intended to review the chemistry and biochemistry of polyphenols as related to classification, extraction, separation and analytical methods, their occurrence and biosynthesis in plants, and the biological activities and implications in human health. The discussions are focused on important and most recent advances in the above aspects, and challenges are identified for future research. Keywords: polyphenols; phenolics; phenolic acids; flavonoids; extraction; separation; antioxidant; cell signal modulation 1. Introduction Dietary polyphenols have received tremendous attention among nutritionists, food scientists and consumers due to their roles in human health. Research in recent years strongly supports a role for polyphenols in the prevention of degenerative diseases, particularly cancers, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases [1,2]. Polyphenols are strong antioxidants that complement and add to the functions of antioxidant vitamins and enzymes as a defense against oxidative stress caused by excess reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although most of the evidence of the antioxidant activity of polyphenols is based on in vitro studies, increasing evidence indicates they may act in ways beyond the antioxidant functions in vivo. Modulation of cell signaling pathways by polyphenols may help significantly to explain the mechanisms of the actions of polyphenol-rich diets [3,4]. In the meantime, chemically, polyphenols are a group of natural compounds with phenolic structural features. It is a collective term for several sub-groups of phenolic compounds, however, use of the term ―polyphenols‖ OPEN ACCESS nutrients ISSN 2072-6643 www.mdpi.com/journal/nutrients

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