Can Dietary Polyphenols Prevent the Formation of Toxic Compounds from Maillard Reaction?

Curr Drug Metab. 2016;17(6):598-607. doi: 10.2174/1389200217666160308130906.


Background: Polyphenols are functional compounds in edible vegetable and food such as tea, coffee and red wine and increasing evidence demonstrates a positive link between consumption of polyphenol-rich foods and disease prevention.

Objective: In this review we have focused on the current knowledge of the potential anti-glycation effects of polyphenols, particularly in regard to their influence on Maillard reaction, a non-enzymatic reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that contributes to the production of toxic compounds, mainly reactive carbonyl species, advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) and other toxicants.

Method and results: The Maillard reaction occurs in the human body during hyperglycemic condition, but it is well known as browning reaction in thermally processed foods and it is responsible for flavor and toxicant formation. Dietary polyphenols can have anti-glycation effects and actively participate in Maillard reaction, mitigating the AGE formation and the heat-induced production of toxic compounds.

Conclusion: In a time in which the role of a healthy diet in the prevention of chronic diseases is welcome and the borderline between food and medicine is becoming very thin, an improved mechanistic knowledge of how polyphenols can function to reduce harmful and unhealthy substances is mandatory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Maillard Reaction*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Polyphenols / classification
  • Polyphenols / metabolism*
  • Protein Carbonylation*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Polyphenols
  • Reactive Oxygen Species