Comparison of polyphenol intakes according to distinct dietary patterns and food sources in the Adventist Health Study-2 cohort

Br J Nutr. 2016 Jun;115(12):2162-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516001331. Epub 2016 Apr 15.


Evidence suggests a relationship between polyphenol intake and health benefits. Polyphenol intake among a large US cohort with diverse dietary practices ranging from meatless to omnivorous diets has not been previously evaluated. The primary aim of this study was to compare polyphenol intakes of several vegetarian and non-vegetarian dietary patterns and to assess phenolic intake by food source. To characterise dietary intake, a FFQ was administered to 77 441 participants of the Adventist Health Study-2. Dietary patterns were defined based on the absence of animal food consumption as vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Polyphenol intakes were calculated based on chromatography-derived polyphenol content data of foods from Phenol-Explorer, US Department of Agriculture databases and relevant literature. Results revealed a mean unadjusted total polyphenol intake of 801 (sd 356) mg/d, and the main foods contributing to polyphenol intakes were coffee, fruits and fruit juices. Total polyphenol intake differed significantly between dietary patterns, with phenolic acids from coffee contributing the greatest variation. The dominant classes and sources of dietary polyphenols differed between vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. Flavonoid intake was the highest among pesco-vegetarians, and phenolic acid intake was the highest among non-vegetarians. In addition, coffee consumers appeared to have a different dietary profile than non-coffee consumers, including greatly reduced contribution of fruits, vegetables and legumes to total phenolic intake. Coffee drinkers were more likely to be non-vegetarians, which explained several of these observations. Further evaluating these differences may be important in identifying relationships between plant-based diets and health outcomes.

Keywords: AHS-2 Adventist Health Study-2; Adventist Health Study-2; Plant-based diets; Polyphenol intakes; USDA US Department of Agriculture; Vegetarians.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Coffee
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Vegetarian
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenols / administration & dosage
  • Polyphenols / administration & dosage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States


  • Coffee
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols