Natural polyphenols are a wide class of secondary plant metabolites and represent an abundant antioxidant component of human diet. An important, but often neglected group of natural polyphenols, are tannins. This review offers a general description of chemistry of both hydrolysable and condensed tannins (proanthocyanidins), the mechanisms of their antioxidation action, like free radical scavenging activity, chelation of transition metals, inhibition of prooxidative enzymes and lipid peroxidation. The mechanisms of action of antibacterial, antiviral, anticarcinogenic, cardiovascular system preventing, and antiinflammatory effects as well as the absorption, metabolic fate and positive in vivo effects of tannins are enclosed.
Keywords: Tannins, antioxidant, diseases, proanthocyanidins, free radicals, biological activity, phlorotannins
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