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Natural plant polyphenols for alleviating oxidative damage in man: Current status and future perspectives

Jiao-Kun Li
Xue-Duan Liu
Li Shen
Wei-Min Zeng
Guan-Zhou Qiu


The balance between oxidation and reduction is important for maintaining a healthy biological system. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between excessive formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species (RNS) and limited endogenous defense systems, and this imbalance can adversely alter lipids, proteins and DNA, causing a number of human diseases. Thus, exogenous antioxidants that can neutralize the effect of free radicals are needed to diminish the cumulative effects of oxidative damage over human life span. Current research reveals that phenolic compounds in plants possess high antioxidant activity and free radical scavenging capacity and can prevent the body from oxidative damage over human life span. This review focuses on the present understanding of free radicals and antioxidants and their importance in human health and disease. Information about the chemical features of free radicals as well as their deleterious effects on cell structures is reviewed. The chemical structure and anti-oxidative mechanisms of essential polyphenols and their potential health benefits are presented. In addition, the limitation of natural antioxidants and a perspective on likely future trends in this field are also discussed.

Keywords: Free radicals, Oxidative stress, Natural antioxidants, Polyphenols, Health benefits, Reactive oxygen species, Reactive nitrogen species