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Nutritional Benefits of Flavonoids

  • Edwin N. Frankel

Summary

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 

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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 1997

Authors and Affiliations

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

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