Objective: To study the intake of catechins in the Dutch population and to assess the relation between catechin intake and other dietary factors. Catechins, dietary components that belong to the flavonoid family, potentially protect against chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Catechins are the major components of tea, but they are present in many other plant foods as well.
Design: Data were used from a nationwide dietary survey carried out in 1998 among a representative sample of 6200 Dutch men and women aged 1-97y. Dietary data were collected using a 2 day dietary record method.
Results: The average daily catechin intake was 50 mg (s.d. 56 mg/day). Catechin intake increased with age, and the intake was higher in women (60 mg/day) than in men (40 mg/day). Tea was the main catechin source in all age groups, whereas chocolate was second in children, and apples and pears were second in adults and elderly. Catechin intake was lower in smokers than in non-smokers, and increased with socio-economic status. A high intake was associated with a high intake of fiber (r = 0.20), vitamin C (r = 0.17) and beta-carotene (r = 0.10).
Conclusions: Catechins are quantitatively important bioactive components of the daily diet, which should be taken into account when studying the relation between diet and chronic diseases. Catechin intake is only moderately associated with the intake of other nutrients, but much stronger with certain health behaviours such as smoking.