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Dietary consumption of polyphenols in university students. Relationship with their health-related habits
* 1 , 1 , 2 , 2 , * 1
1  Departament de Bioquímica i Fisiologia, Facultat de Farmàcia i Ciències de l’Alimentació, Universitat de Barcelona
2  Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar Egas Moniz, Egas Moniz Cooperativa de Ensino Superior, Quinta da Granja


Polyphenols are compounds derived from plants found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, cocoa and coffee with potential health benefits due to their antioxidant properties. They are classified into flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans and stibenes. It has been demonstrated that diets rich in polyphenols offers protection against multiple diseases. Thus, we aimed to study the relationship between the amount of polyphenols consumed by university students and their health status along with their physical activity habits and health. For this, 270 university students (199 women and 71 men) with an average age of 22.5 (± 3.9) years were included in this study. Participants answered a validated food consumption frequency questionnaire (FFQ), a physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ), and a health and lifestyle questionnaire. From the FFQ, the daily consumption of polyphenols, their classes and their subclasses were calculated. The population was classified in terciles according to the polyphenol’s consumption (high, medium and low). The relationship between consumption of polyphenols and sociodemographic characteristics, the physical activity habits and the health status of the students was stablished. From these data, we found that the average daily consumption of polyphenols was about 1.5 g, being flavonoids and phenolic acids the most consumed. The main food sources in this young population were cocoa and coffee and, in a lesser extent, fruits. There were no significant differences in consumption according to sex, BMI, health status or physical activity. The smoking habit (in 10% students) was associated with a higher consumption of polyphenols, mainly those that came from coffee and cocoa. In conclusion, the main sources of polyphenol consumption in the university students were cocoa and coffee Students who smoke had a higher consumption of polyphenols, especially those derived from coffee, with respect to non-smoking students.

Keywords: Polyphenols; FFQ; IPAQ; smoking habit; university students