Growing evidence support association between polyphenol intake and reduced risk for chronic diseases, even if there is a broad debate about the effective amount of polyphenols able to exert such protective effect. The present systematic review provides an overview of the last 10-year literature on the evaluation of polyphenol intake and its association with specific disease markers and/or endpoints. An estimation of the mean total polyphenol intake has been performed despite the large heterogeneity of data reviewed. In addition, the contribution of dietary sources was considered, suggesting tea, coffee, red wine, fruit and vegetables as the main products providing polyphenols. Total flavonoids and specific subclasses, but not total polyphenols, have been apparently associated with a low risk of diabetes, cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. However, large variability in terms of methods for the evaluation and quantification of polyphenol intake, markers and endpoints considered, makes it still difficult to establish an evidence-based reference intake for the whole class and subclass of compounds. Nevertheless, the critical mass of data available seem to strongly suggest the protective effect of a polyphenol-rich dietary pattern even if further well targeted and methodologically sound research should be encouraged in order to define specific recommendations.
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