Background/objectives: The diversity of the chemical structures of dietary polyphenols makes it difficult to estimate their total content in foods, and also to understand the role of polyphenols in health and the prevention of diseases. Global redox colorimetric assays have commonly been used to estimate the total polyphenol content in foods. However, these assays lack specificity. Contents of individual polyphenols have been determined by chromatography. These data, scattered in several hundred publications, have been compiled in the Phenol-Explorer database. The aim of this paper is to identify the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols using this database.
Subjects/methods: Advanced queries in the Phenol-Explorer database (www.phenol-explorer.eu) allowed retrieval of information on the content of 502 polyphenol glycosides, esters and aglycones in 452 foods. Total polyphenol content was calculated as the sum of the contents of all individual polyphenols. These content values were compared with the content of antioxidants estimated using the Folin assay method in the same foods. These values were also extracted from the same database. Amounts per serving were calculated using common serving sizes.
Results: A list of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols was produced, with contents varying from 15,000 mg per 100 g in cloves to 10 mg per 100 ml in rosé wine. The richest sources were various spices and dried herbs, cocoa products, some darkly coloured berries, some seeds (flaxseed) and nuts (chestnut, hazelnut) and some vegetables, including olive and globe artichoke heads. A list of the 89 foods and beverages providing more than 1 mg of total polyphenols per serving was established. A comparison of total polyphenol contents with antioxidant contents, as determined by the Folin assay, also showed that Folin values systematically exceed the total polyphenol content values.
Conclusions: The comprehensive Phenol-Explorer data were used for the first time to identify the richest dietary sources of polyphenols and the foods contributing most significantly to polyphenol intake as inferred from their content per serving.