Where do polyphenols stem from and what do they have to do with fruits and vegetables going rotten?

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Where do polyphenols stem from and what do they have to do with fruits and vegetables going rotten?

In: Chemistry

Plants have evolved to make phenols and polyphenols (which is a bunch of phenols stuck together). They are involved with controlling plant growth hormones, protecting plants from the sun, stopping animals from eating the plants, stopping microbial infections, and serve as signaling molecules in ripening and other growth processes.

Phenols are aromatic molecules. This means their chemical structure is in a ring shape (not all ring shapes are aromatic, but all aromatic molecules have a closed loop of electrons). It also means that they float into the air very easily, which means it’s easy for our nose to smell them (aroma means smell).

So when fruits and vegetables go rotten, their flesh breaks down, and aromatic polyphenols are exposed to the air and float up. Then they go to your nose. They are part of the smell of rotting fruits and veggies.

Polyphenols have antioxidant qualities, which makes them good for you. They are probably the biggest reason why foods smell good. When people go wine tasting and claim they smell chocolate, grass, or other strange things not present in grapes, they are smelling phenols that happen to be in both substances.