Nature and consequences of non-covalent interactions between flavonoids and macronutrients in foods
Many of the potential health benefits of flavonoids have been associated with their specific chemical and biological properties including their ability to interact and bind non-covalently to macronutrients in foods. While flavonoid–protein interactions and binding have been the subject of intensive study, significantly less is understood about non-covalent interactions with carbohydrates and lipids. These interactions with macronutrients are likely to impact both the flavonoid properties in foods, such as their radical scavenging activity, and the food or beverage matrix itself, including their taste, texture and other sensorial properties. Overall, non-covalent binding of flavonoids with macronutrients is primarily driven by van der Waals interactions. From the flavonoid perspective, these interactions are modulated by characteristics such as degree of polymerization, molecular flexibility, number of external hydroxyl groups, or number of terminal galloyl groups. From the macronutrient standpoint, electrostatic and ionic interactions are generally predominant with carbohydrates, while hydrophobic interactions are generally predominant with lipids and mainly limited to interactions with flavonols. All of these interactions are involved in flavonoid–protein interactions. While primarily associated with undesirable characteristics in foods and beverages, such as astringency, negative impact on macronutrient digestibility and hazing, more recent efforts have attempted to leverage these interactions to develop controlled delivery systems or strategies to enhance flavonoids bioavailability. This paper aims at reviewing the fundamental bases for non-covalent interactions, their occurrence in food and beverage systems and their impact on the physico-chemical, organoleptic and some nutritional properties of food.