Representing the most common flavonoid consumed in the American diet, the flavan-3-ols and their polymeric condensation products, the proanthocyanidins, are regarded as functional ingredients in various beverages, whole and processed foods, herbal remedies and supplements. Their presence in food affects food quality parameters such as astringency, bitterness, sourness, sweetness, salivary viscosity, aroma, and color formation. The ability of flavan-3-ols to aid food functionality has also been established in terms of microbial stability, foamability, oxidative stability, and heat stability. While some foods only contain monomeric flavan-3-ols [(-)-epicatechin predominates] and dimeric proanthocyanidins, most foods contain oligomers of degree of polymerization values ranging from 1-10 or greater than 10. Flavan-3-ols have been reported to exhibit several health beneficial effects by acting as antioxidant, anticarcinogen, cardiopreventive, antimicrobial, anti-viral, and neuro-protective agents. This review summarizes the distribution and health effects of these compounds.