Background/objectives: Polyphenols are plant secondary metabolites with a large variability in their chemical structure and dietary occurrence that have been associated with some protective effects against several chronic diseases. To date, limited data exist on intake of polyphenols in populations. The current cross-sectional analysis aimed at estimating dietary intakes of all currently known individual polyphenols and total intake per class and subclass, and to identify their main food sources in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort.
Methods: Dietary data at baseline were collected using a standardized 24-h dietary recall software administered to 36,037 adult subjects. Dietary data were linked with Phenol-Explorer, a database with data on 502 individual polyphenols in 452 foods and data on polyphenol losses due to cooking and food processing.
Results: Mean total polyphenol intake was the highest in Aarhus-Denmark (1786 mg/day in men and 1626 mg/day in women) and the lowest in Greece (744 mg/day in men and 584 mg/day in women). When dividing the subjects into three regions, the highest intake of total polyphenols was observed in the UK health-conscious group, followed by non-Mediterranean (non-MED) and MED countries. The main polyphenol contributors were phenolic acids (52.5-56.9 %), except in men from MED countries and in the UK health-conscious group where they were flavonoids (49.1-61.7 %). Coffee, tea, and fruits were the most important food sources of total polyphenols. A total of 437 different individual polyphenols were consumed, including 94 consumed at a level >1 mg/day. The most abundant ones were the caffeoylquinic acids and the proanthocyanidin oligomers and polymers.
Conclusion: This study describes the large number of dietary individual polyphenols consumed and the high variability of their intakes between European populations, particularly between MED and non-MED countries.
Keywords: Dietary intake; EPIC; Food sources; Polyphenols.