How to Add Phenolic Acids to Your Diet

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman.

Phenolic acid is a type of phytochemical found in plant foods. They provide substantial health benefits. Learn about phenolic acids and where to get them below.

What is Phenolic Acid?

A phenolic acid is a type of phytochemical, also called a polyphenol. Other types of polyphenols include flavonoids and stilbenes. Phenolic acids and other polyphenols are found in a variety of plant-based foods. The seeds and skins of fruits and the leaves of vegetables contain the highest concentrations. Foods rich in phenolic acids, such as fruits and vegetables, may be beneficial for your health, but it's difficult to understand how much of that benefit is actually due to the phenolic acids or to the nutrients, fiber, and other phytochemicals also found in those foods.

Benefits of Phenolic Acid

Phenolic acids are readily absorbed through the walls of your intestinal tract. They may be beneficial to your health because they work as antioxidants that prevent cellular damage due to free-radical oxidation reactions. They may also promote anti-inflammatory conditions in your body when you eat them regularly.

Drinking coffee has been associated with a decreased risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases. It contains caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, but it also contains caffeine and other potentially beneficial compounds. Similarly, red wine has phenolic acids. But it also has resveratrol, another polyphenol that has potential health benefits.

Where to Find Phenolic Acids

Phenolic acids are abundant in a balanced diet. You should get plenty of them as long as you consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

The many different phenolic acids found in nature can be divided into two categories: benzoic acid derivatives, such as gallic acid; and cinnamic acid derivatives, including caffeic acid and ferulic acid. Cinnamic acids are the more common of the two.

Types of Phenolic Compounds
Sources of Benzoic Acid Derivatives Sources of Cinnamic Acid Derivatives
Tea Coffee
Grape seeds Blueberries
  Red wine
  Cereal grains: corn, whole wheat, oats, rice

Coffee contains caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. Blueberries, kiwis, plums, cherries, and apples contain large amounts of caffeic acid. Red wine and citrus fruits contain cinnamic acid.

Ferulic acid is found in the outer coverings of cereal grains. Maize has the most ferulic acid of any grain, but whole-grain wheat, rice, and oat flours are good sources of ferulic acid as well.

Phenolic Acid Supplements

Phenolic acids may be available commercially in the form of dietary supplements, such as grape seed extract or green tea extract, which contain gallic acid.

These supplements are usually marketed as antioxidants, but current research evidence suggests that eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is more beneficial than taking any antioxidant supplements.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.