Dietary polyphenols are non-essential phytochemicals that have been shown to possess certain health effects. It has been suggested that these health effects stem largely from the ability of polyphenols to confer antioxidant protection on the consumer. Evidence suggests that polyphenols are important dietary factors that control of brain function, and that high dietary intake may improve cognition through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective mechanisms. Polyphenols modulate a number of neurotransmitter systems in the brain and this may explain their potential as antidepressants. For example, a number of naturally occuring polyphenolic substances including curcumin, apigenin, chlorogenic acid, amentoflavone, ellagic acid, hesperidin, naringenin, nobiletin, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, rutin and quercetin have all been shown to alter the enzyme system monoamine oxidase in animal models. This may explain the ability of these compounds to alter brain levels of neurotransmitters.
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