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Plant Phenolics: Bioavailability As A Key Determinant Of Their Potential Health-Promoting Applications

Patricia Cosme, Ana B. Rodríguez, Javier Espino, María Garrido

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Phenolic compounds are secondary metabolites widely spread throughout the plant kingdom that can be categorized as flavonoids and non-flavonoids. Interest in phenolic compounds has dramatically increased during the last decade due to their biological effects and promising therapeutic applications. In this review, we discuss the importance of phenolic compounds’ bioavailability to accomplish their physiological functions, and highlight main factors affecting such parameter throughout metabolism of phenolics, from absorption to excretion. Besides, we give an updated overview of the health benefits of phenolic compounds, which are mainly linked to both their direct (e.g., free-radical scavenging ability) and indirect (e.g., by stimulating activity of antioxidant enzymes) antioxidant properties. Such antioxidant actions reportedly help them to prevent chronic and oxidative stress-related disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, among others. Last, we comment on development of cutting-edge delivery systems intended to improve bioavailability and enhance stability of phenolic compounds in the human body.