Dietary Polyphenol Intake in US Adults and 10-Year Trends: 2007-2016

Published:August 15, 2020DOI:



      Polyphenols are a class of phytochemicals that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antiviral properties. Previous research suggests that dietary polyphenol intake is protective against major chronic diseases. To our knowledge, no data on polyphenol intake for the US adult population are available.


      This study explored usual dietary polyphenol intake among US adults in 2013-2016 and examined trends in intake during 2007-2016 by demographic characteristics, and identified major dietary sources of polyphenols.


      The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is a series of cross-sectional surveys representative of the civilian noninstitutionalized US population.


      This study included 9,773 adults aged 20 years and older.

      Main outcome measures

      Dietary and supplement data were obtained from two 24-hour dietary recalls. Polyphenol intake was estimated using the Phenol Explorer Database and adjusted for total energy intake.

      Statistical analysis performed

      Usual intake was estimated both overall and by demographic characteristics using the National Cancer Institute method. Trends in intake on a given day over 10 years were evaluated using regression analysis. The complex survey design was incorporated in all analyses.


      In 2013-2016, the usual intake of dietary polyphenols was a mean (standard error) of 884.1 (20.4) mg per 1,000 kcal/d. Polyphenol intake was higher in adults 40 years and older, women, non-Hispanic White adults, and college graduates. During 2007-2016, the mean daily polyphenol intake did not change significantly over time for overall and demographic groups. Main polyphenol classes consumed were phenolic acids (mean [standard error] of 1,005.6 [34.3] mg/d) and flavonoids (mean [standard error] of 379.1 [10.7] mg/d). Foods and beverages contributed 99.8% of polyphenol intake, with coffee (39.6%), beans (9.8%), and tea (7.6%) as major dietary contributors.


      Findings from this study suggest that polyphenol intake is consistent with the low intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the US population, and provide more evidence of the need for increased consumption of these food groups.


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      Q. Huang is a PhD candidate and research associate, Department of Epidemiology and Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences; Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


      B. H. Braffett is an associate research professor, Department of Epidemiology, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


      H. A. Young is a professor and vice chair, Department of Epidemiology, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


      C. L. Ogden is an adjunct professor, Department of Epidemiology; and Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


      S. J. Simmens is a research professor, Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics; all at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.