The prevention and treatment of obesity is primary based on the follow-up of a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet with an important presence of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols. For many years, the health benefits of polyphenols have been attributed to their anti-oxidant capacity as free radical scavengers. More recently it has been described that polyphenols activate other cell-signaling pathways that are not related to ROS production but rather involved in metabolic regulation. In this review, we have summarized the current knowledge in this field by focusing on the metabolic effects of flavonoids. Flavonoids are widely distributed in the plant kingdom where they are used for growing and defensing. They are structurally characterized by two benzene rings and a heterocyclic pyrone ring and based on the oxidation and saturation status of the heterocyclic ring flavonoids are grouped in seven different subclasses. The present work is focused on describing the molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic impact of flavonoids in obesity and obesity-related diseases. We described the effects of each group of flavonoids in liver, white and brown adipose tissue and central nervous system and the metabolic and signaling pathways involved on them.
Keywords: adipose tissue; brain; flavonoids; lipid metabolism; metabolic regulation; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; obesity.