Nutritional Benefits of Flavonoids

  • Edwin N. Frankel
Conference paper


Plant flavonoids are an important part of the diet because of their effects on human nutrition. These phyto-chemicals can modulate lipid peroxidation involved in atherogenesis, thrombosis, and carcinogenesis. Known properties of the flavonoids include free radical scavenging, strong antioxidant activities in preventing oxidation, inhibition of low density lipoproteins (LDL), inhibition of hydrolytic and oxidative enzymes (phospholipase A2, cyclooxygenase, lipoxygenase), and antiinflammatory actions. We found that dealcoholized red wine and red grapes are important sources of flavonoid antioxidants that are potent inhibitors of in vitro oxidation of LDL. The activity of commercial wines to protect LDL from oxidation was compared with the activity of pure phenolic compounds found in wine. The procyanidin dimers and trimers and the monomers catechin, epicatechin, and myricetin had the highest antioxidant activity. The monomers gallic acid, quercetin, caffeic acid, rutin, ellagic acid, sinapic acid, and cyanidin had lower antioxidant activity. These flavonoids are found in many fruits and vegetables in a great variety of structures and specificities. As potent antioxidants, flavonoids may be especially important in protecting against human disease. They represent a positive potential in our diet that requires further research to improve our understanding of their mechanism of action.

Key Words

Antioxidants Flavonoids Fruits LDL oxidation Atherosclerosis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kühnau J (1976) The flavonoids: a class of semi-essential food components: their role in human nutrition. World Rev Nutr Diet 24:117–191PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kinsella JE, Frankel EN, German B, Kanner J (1993) Possible mechanisms for the protective role of antioxidants in wine and plant foods. Food Technol April:85–89Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Block G, Patterson B, Subar A (1992) Fruits, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Nutr Cancer 18:1–29PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ames BN, Shigenaga MK, Hagen TM (1993) Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 90:7915–7922PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Halliwell B, Murcia MA, Chirico S, Aruoma L (1995) Free radicals and antioxidants in food and in vivo: what they do and how they work. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 35:7–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Mazza G (1995) Anthocyanins in grapes and grape products. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 35:341–371PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Frankel EN, Kanner J, German JB, Parks E, Kinsella JE (1993) Inhibition of in vitro oxidation of human low-density lipoprotein with phenolic substances in red wine. Lancet 341:454–457PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hertog MGL, Fesken EJM, Hollman PCH, Katan MB, Kromhout D (1993) Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and risk of coronary heart disease: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Lancet 342:1007–1011PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hertog MGL, Fesken EJM, Hollman PCH, Katan MB, Kromhout D (1994) Dietary antioxidant flavonoids and cancer risk in the Zutphen Elderly Study. Nutr Cancer 22:175–184PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pratt DE, Hudson BJF (1990) Natural antioxidants not exploited commercially. In: Hudson BJF (ed) Food antioxidants. Elsevier, London, pp 171–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bors W, Heller W, Michel C, Saran M (1990) Flavonoids as antioxidants: determination of radical scavenging efficiencies. Methods Enzymol 186:343–355PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Clark WG, Geissman TA (1949) Potentiation of epinephrine by Flavonoid compounds. Nature 163:36–37PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Crimson JM, Berez RR, Madden JD, Fuhrman FA (1951) Rutin and other flavonoids as potentiators of terminal vascular responses to adrenaline and as antagonists to vasodepressor materials. Am J Physiol 164:391–399Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Steinberg D, Parthasarathy S, Carew TE, Khoo JC, Witztum JL (1989) Beyond cholesterol: modification of low-density lipoprotein that increase its atherogenicity. N Engl J Med 320:915–924PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Esterbauer H, Gebicki J, Puhl H, Jürgens G (1992) The role of lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in oxidative modification of low density lipoproteins. Free Radical Biol Med 13:341–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kanner J, Frankel EN, Granit R, German B, Kinsella JE (1994) Natural antioxidants in grapes and wines. J Agric Food Chem 42:64–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Frankel EN, Waterhouse AL, Teissedre PL (1995) Principal phenolic phytochemicals in selected California wines and their antioxidant activity in inhibiting oxidation of human low-density lipoproteins. J Agric Food Chem 43:890–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    De Whalley CV, Rankin SM, Hoult JRS, Jessup W, Leake DS (1990) Flavonoids inhibit the oxidative modification of low density lipoproteins by macrophages. Biochem Pharmacol 39:1743–1750PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nègre-Salvayre A, Salvayre R (1992) Quercetin prevents the cytotoxicity of oxidized LDL on lymphoid cell lines. Free Radical Biol Med 12:101–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Teissedre PL, Frankel EN, Waterhouse AL, Peleg H, German JB (1996) Inhibition of in vitro human LDL oxidation by phenolic antioxidants from grapes and wines. J Sci Food Agric 70:55–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Moroney M-A, Alcaraz MJ, Forder RA, Carey F, Hoult JRS (1988) Selectivity of neutrophyl 5-lipoxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase inhibition by an anti-inflammatory flavonoid glycoside and related aglycone flavonoids. J Pharmacol Pharmacodyn 278:4–12Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Cotereau H, Gabe M, Géro E, Tarrot JL (1948) Influence of vitamin P (C2) upon the amount of ascorbic acid in the organ of the guinea pig. Nature 161:557–558PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hughes RE, Jones PR (1971) Natural and synthetic sources of vitamin C. J Sci Food Agric 22:551–552PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Das NP (1971) Studies on flavonoid metabolism: absorption and metabolism of (+)-catechin in man. Biochem Pharmacol 20:3435–3445PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hackett AM, Griffith LA, Wermeille M (1985) The quantitative disposition of 3–0-methyl-(+)-[U-14C]-catechin in man following oral administration. Xenobiotica 15:907–914PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Manach C, Morand C, Texier O, Favier M-L, Agullo G, Demigné C, Régérat F, Rémésy C (1995) Quercetin metabolites in plasma of rats fed diets containing rutin and quercetin. J Nutr 125:1911–1922PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hollman PCH, de Vries JHM, van Leeuwen SD, Mengeleres MJB, Katan MB (1995) Absorption of dietary querscetin glycosides and quercetin in healthy ileostomy volunteers. J Clin Nutr 62:1276–1282Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Maxwell S, Cruickshank A, Thorpe G (1994) Red wine and antioxidant activity in serum. Lancet 334:193–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kondo K, Matsumoto A, Kurata H, Tanahashi H, Koda H, Amachi T, Itakura H (1994) Inhibition of oxidation of low-density lipoprotein with red wine. Lancet 344:1152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Fuhrman B, Lavy A, Aviram M (1995) Consumption of red wine with meals reduces the susceptibility of human plasma and low-density lipoprotein to lipid peroxidation. Am J Clin Nutr 61:549–554PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin N. Frankel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations