Flavonoids (or bioflavonoids) (from the Latin word flavus meaning yellow, their color in nature) are a class of plant and fungus secondary metabolites.
Chemically, flavonoids have the general structure of a 15-carbon skeleton, which consists of two phenyl rings (A and B) and heterocyclic ring (C).
This carbon structure can be abbreviated C6-C3-C6. According to the IUPAC nomenclature, they can be classified into:
- flavonoids or bioflavonoids
- isoflavonoids, derived from 3-phenylchromen-4-one (3-phenyl-1,4-benzopyrone) structure
- neoflavonoids, derived from 4-phenyl coumarine (4-phenyl-1,2-benzopyrone) structure
The three flavonoid classes above are all ketone-containing compounds, and as such, are anthoxanthins (flavones and flavonols). This class was the first to be termed bioflavonoids. The terms flavonoid and bioflavonoid have also been more loosely used to describe non-ketone polyhydroxy polyphenol compounds which are more specifically termed flavanoids. The three cycle or heterocycles in the flavonoid backbone are generally called ring A, B and C. Ring A usually shows a phloroglucinol substitution pattern.
- Isoflavones use the 3-phenylchromen-4-one skeleton (with no hydroxyl group substitution on carbon at position 2).