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Complex phenols and tannins (CPTS) in human health

The project gains an understanding of the biological effects of dietary complex phenols and tannins (CPT) and their implications for the health and general well-being of the European consumer. CPTs are found in some vegetables and in many fruits with red wines and black tea (but not green tea) particularly important sources. Some European Union (EU) citizens consume kilogram quantities of CPTs annually (ie mostly red wine-derived CPTs for southern Europeans and black tea-derived CPTs for northern Europeans). The project has five interactive parts: the isolation of CPT from foods (particularly fruit, red wine and black tea); their analysis in the diet; their study using in vitro procedures; their study using animals and volunteers; seeking links between consumption and disease. To date most of the attention has focused on the first two. Condensed tannins have been obtained in quantities not previously available and 380 g of CPT characteristic of matured red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) has been isolated as has a completely new class of CPT - named theacitrin - from black tea. The amounts are sufficient to enable the biological effects of the CPTs to be investigated. Thereafter it is important to have reliable data on the amounts being consumed by different sectors of the population. Methods have been developed for the analysis of flavanols, condensed tannins and thearubigins, and data are being accumulated for the occurrence of these substances in foods and beverages. The flavanol and condensed tannin profiles of 17 fruits and beverages have been obtained. The thearubigin content of black tea varies greatly with method of brewing (eg loose tea leaf infusion in a teapot gives much larger amounts than dipping a teabag). Adding milk further complicates the issue as milk proteins complex (ie. remove or bind) some of the CPT.

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