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Keywords:

  • anti-oxidant;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • bioavailability;
  • distribution;
  • flavonoid;
  • lipoprotein;
  • phenolic acid;
  • radical;
  • red wine;
  • tea

SUMMARY

1. There has been considerable recent interest in the possibility that increased intake of dietary anti-oxidants may protect against cardiovascular disease. This is partly due to the knowledge that oxidative events in vivo may play a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.

2. While dietary anti-oxidants, such as vitamins E and C, have received considerable attention in this regard, relatively little is known about a similar anti-oxidant role for plant-derived polyphenolic compounds, such as the flavonoids and phenolic acids. A review of the distribution, bioavailability and biological activity of these compounds suggests that they may have a physiological role as anti-oxidants.

3. Human trials on the anti-oxidant effects of beverages rich in polyphenolics, such as red wine, fruit juice or tea, have been limited and results are, at present, inconclusive. This is due, in part, to poor methodologies available to measure oxidative damage in vivo.

4. There is a sound rationale for considering polyphenolics as important contributors to the dietary anti-oxidant intake derived from fruits and vegetables. However, continuing research is needed using appropriate biomarkers of oxidant damage in vivo before these compounds can be conclusively considered as dietary anti-oxidants with nutritional benefit.