Plant flavonoids: Classification, distribution, biosynthesis, and antioxidant activity

Food Chem. 2022 Jul 30;383:132531. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.132531. Epub 2022 Feb 23.


Flavonoids are a group of natural polyphenol substances abundant in vegetables, fruits, grains, and tea. As plant secondary metabolites, flavonoids play essential roles in many biological processes and responses to environmental factors in plants. Flavonoids are common in human diets and have antioxidant effects as well as other bioactivities (e.g., antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties), which reduce the risk of disease. Flavonoid bioactivity depends on structural substitution patterns in their C6-C3-C6 rings. However, reviews of plant flavonoid distribution and biosynthesis, as well as the health benefits of its bioactivity, remain scarce. Therefore, in the present review, we systematically summarize recent progress in the research of plant flavonoids, focusing on their biosynthesis (pathway and transcription factors) and bioactive mechanisms based on epidemic evidence, in vitro and in vivo research, and bioavailability in the human body. We also discuss future opportunities in flavonoid research, including biotechnology, therapeutic phytoproducts, and dietary flavonoids.

Keywords: Antioxidant activity; Bioavailability; Diet; Flavonoid biosynthesis; Non-communicable diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants* / metabolism
  • Flavonoids* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Polyphenols / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Polyphenols
  • Transcription Factors