Natural antioxidants: fascinating or mythical biomolecules?

Molecules. 2010 Oct 8;15(10):6905-30. doi: 10.3390/molecules15106905.


Research on the use, properties, characteristics and sources of antioxidants especially phenolic compounds, flavonoids, vitamins, synthetic chemicals and some micronutrients began in the late 18(th) century. Since then antioxidant research has received considerable attention and over a hundred thousand papers have been published on the subject. This has led to a rampant use of antioxidants in order to try to obtain and preserve optimal health. A number of nutraceuticals and food supplements are frequently fortified with synthetic or natural antioxidants. However, some research outcomes have led to the belief that antioxidants exist as mythical biomolecules. This review provides a critical evaluation of some common in vitro antioxidant capacity methods, and a discussion on the role and controversies surrounding non-enzymatic biomolecules, in particular phenolic compounds and non-phenolic compounds, in oxidative processes in an attempt of stemming the tidal wave that is threatening to swamp the concept of natural antioxidants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Beverages
  • Biological Assay / methods
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Food
  • Free Radical Scavengers / chemistry
  • Micronutrients
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phenols / chemistry*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / chemistry
  • Vitamins / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Micronutrients
  • Phenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamins