Structure-antioxidant activity relationships of flavonoids and phenolic acids

Free Radic Biol Med. 1996;20(7):933-56. doi: 10.1016/0891-5849(95)02227-9.


The recent explosion of interest in the bioactivity of the flavonoids of higher plants is due, at least in part, to the potential health benefits of these polyphenolic components of major dietary constituents. This review article discusses the biological properties of the flavonoids and focuses on the relationship between their antioxidant activity, as hydrogen donating free radical scavengers, and their chemical structures. This culminates in a proposed hierarchy of antioxidant activity in the aqueous phase. The cumulative findings concerning structure-antioxidant activity relationships in the lipophilic phase derive from studies on fatty acids, liposomes, and low-density lipoproteins; the factors underlying the influence of the different classes of polyphenols in enhancing their resistance to oxidation are discussed and support the contention that the partition coefficients of the flavonoids as well as their rates of reaction with the relevant radicals define the antioxidant activities in the lipophilic phase.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Hydroxybenzoates / chemistry*
  • Hydroxybenzoates / pharmacology
  • Molecular Structure
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Flavonoids
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Hydroxybenzoates