What is the Difference Between Flavonoids and Flavonols

The main difference between flavonoids and flavanols is that flavonols represent a specific subgroup within the broader category of flavonoids, characterized by their distinctive 3-hydroxyflavone backbone.

Flavonoids and flavonols are compounds found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and plants. Research suggests that both flavonoids and flavonols possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, potentially offering protection against oxidative stress-related conditions.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Flavonoids 
      – Definition, Features, Benefits
2. What are Flavonols
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between Flavonoids and Flavonols
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Flavonoids and Flavonols
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Flavonoids and Flavonols
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Flavonoids, Flavonols

Difference Between Flavonoids and Flavonols - Comparison Summary

What are Flavonoids

Flavonoids belong to a larger class of compounds known as polyphenols, which are characterized by their antioxidant properties. These compounds are widely distributed in the plant kingdom. In fact, they are responsible for the rich spectrum of colors we see in various plant parts. Flavonoids are made up of a basic structure consisting of two benzene rings (referred to as rings A and B) connected by a three-carbon chain. Moreover, the specific arrangement of hydroxyl and methoxy groups on this structure gives rise to various subgroups of flavonoids, each with distinct chemical properties and potential health benefits.

Compare Flavonoids and Flavonols

Figure 1: Flavonoids

Flavonoids have been extensively studied for their potential health benefits, and research continues to uncover their various roles in promoting well-being. Here are some of the notable health benefits associated with flavonoid consumption:

  • Flavonoids are potent antioxidants, which means they can neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This antioxidant activity helps protect cells and tissues from oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Many flavonoids exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which can help mitigate chronic inflammation, a common factor in various diseases. Quercetin, for example, has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Flavonoids, particularly catechins found in tea, have been linked to improved heart health. They may help lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and improve blood vessel function.
  • Some flavonoids, such as quercetin and resveratrol, have shown promise in cancer prevention. They can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in some cancer types.
  • Some flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, may support brain health by reducing the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. These compounds have neuroprotective effects.

What are Flavonols

Flavonols belong to the larger family of flavonoids. What sets flavonols apart within the flavonoid family is their distinctive chemical structure. Flavonols have a 3-hydroxyflavone structure, which means they contain a hydroxyl group (-OH) attached to the carbon at position 3 in the flavonoid’s basic structure. In fact, this structural feature imparts specific antioxidant capabilities and bioactive properties to flavonols.

Abundantly found in various fruits, vegetables, and beverages like tea and red wine, flavonols contribute not only to the vibrant hues of plant tissues but also to their distinct flavor profiles. Moreover, common examples of flavonols include quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and isorhamnetin.

Flavonoids vs Flavonols

Figure 2: Quercetin

Quercetin, a well-known flavonol, has garnered attention for its potential cardiovascular benefits, immune system modulation, and even its role in potential cancer prevention. Similarly, kaempferol, another prevalent flavonol, has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects and its impact on various cellular processes.

Similarities Between Flavonoids and Flavonols

  • Both share a common basic structure consisting of two benzene rings (A and B) connected by a three-carbon chain.
  • Flavonoids, including flavonols, are known for their antioxidant properties.

Difference Between Flavonoids and Flavonols


Flavonoids are a larger class of natural compounds found in plants, while flavonols are a specific subgroup of flavonoids.


The basic structure of flavonoids consists of two benzene rings (A and B) connected by a three-carbon chain. Flavonols share the same basic flavonoid structure but are distinguished by the presence of a 3-hydroxyflavone structure, which is the hydroxyl group at position 3.

FAQ: Flavonoids and Flavonols

What fruit has the most flavonoids?

Blueberries are known to have one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids among fruits.

What foods are high in flavonoids?

Foods high in flavonoids include berries (such as blueberries and strawberries), citrus fruits, apples, onions, red cabbage, kale, parsley, tea, and dark chocolate. Additionally, red wine is also a source of flavonoids.

Are flavonoids same as flavonols?

No, flavonoids and flavonols are not the same. Flavonols are a subgroup within the larger category of flavonoids, characterized by a specific 3-hydroxyflavone structure.


The main difference between flavonoids and flavanols is that flavonoids are a diverse group of natural compounds that are widely distributed in the plant kingdom, whereas flavonols are a specific subgroup of flavonoids.


1. “Flavonoid.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.
2. “Flavonols.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Flavonoids Biochemistry” By Mplanine – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Quercetin” By Yikrazuul – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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