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Polyphenols, Flavonoids, Flavonols, and

Current nutrition research is full of articles about polyphenols and flavonoids. What the heck are they?

"Grapes with the water removed are about 90% sugars glucose and fructose, and 0.58% polyphenols (the good stuff that makes fruits and vegetables colored and healthful). Flavanols are the major flavonoids, followed by anthocyanins, and stilbenes, especially resveratrol. Resveratrol is one of the most exciting molecules being studied by nutrition researchers because of its extremely beneficial properties."

A phenol is a six-carbon aromatic ring compound with a hydroxyl group on it. Polyphenols are complexes of multiple rings linked together. Such molecules have lots of conjugated double bonds, which can readily absorb electrons of different energy levels. The particular energy level depends on the arrangement of the rings in the particular molecule - the particular polyphenols. There are lots of different polyphenols, and they provide the different colors to fruits and vegetables. They provide the different colors because they absorb different energy levels of light photons which create different colors. Dark colored fruits like blueberries contain more polyphenols and are thus better for your health.

They are good for your health because they absorb those electrons, and free radicals are loose electrons that cause damage to DNA, proteins and lipids. If you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, they protect you from that free radical damage.

Flavonoids (often spelled flavinoids)

Flavonoids are specific groups of polyphenolic compounds. A familiar one is the vitamin riboflavin. They are categorized according to their chemical structure, into flavonols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins and chalcones. Over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified. In addition to vegetables and fruits, they are found in beverages (especially tea, coffee, and wine). The flavonoids have aroused considerable interest recently because of their potential beneficial effects on human health. They have been reported to have antiviral, anti-allergic, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and antioxidant activities. One of particular interest described at the AGE conference in 2006 is resveratrol.


Resveratrol (trans-3,5,4'-trihydroxystilbene), a compound found in the skins of red grapes, is used to treat diseases of the blood vessels, heart, and liver in the Orient. It came to scientific attention around 2001, however, as an explanation for the "French Paradox" -- the low incidence of heart disease among the French people, who eat a relatively high-fat diet. It is being examined by scientific researchers as an antioxidant, an anti-cancer agent, and a phytoestrogen.

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