Astringency, as a kind of puckering, drying, or rough sensation, is widely perceived from natural foods, especially plants rich in phenolic compounds. Although the interaction and precipitation of salivary proteins by phenolic compounds was often believed as the major mechanism of astringency, a definitive theory about astringency is still lacking due to the complex oral sensations. The interaction with oral epithelial cells and the activation of trigeminal chemoreceptors and mechanoreceptors also shed light on some of the phenolic astringency mechanisms, which complement the insufficient mechanism of interaction with salivary proteins. Since phenolic compounds with different types and structures show different astringency thresholds in a certain regularity, there might be some relationships between the phenolic structures and perceived astringency. On the other hand, novel approaches to reducing the unfavorable perception of phenolic astringency have been increasingly emerging; however, the according summary is still sparse. Therefore, this review aims to: (a) illustrate the possible mechanisms of astringency elicited by phenolic compounds, (b) reveal the possible relationships between phenolic structures and perception of astringency, and (c) summarize the emerging mitigation approaches to astringency triggered by phenolic compounds. This comprehensive review would be of great value to both the understanding of phenolic astringency and the finding of appropriate mitigation approaches to phenolic astringency in future research.
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