Brain aging and the most diffused neurodegenerative diseases of the elderly are characterized by oxidative damage, redox metals homeostasis impairment and inflammation. Food polyphenols can counteract these alterations in vitro and are therefore suggested to have potential anti-aging and brain-protective activities, as also indicated by the results of some epidemiological studies. Despite the huge and increasing amount of the in vitro studies trying to unravel the mechanisms of action of dietary polyphenols, the research in this field is still incomplete, and questions about bioavailability, biotransformation, synergism with other dietary factors, mechanisms of the antioxidant activity, risks inherent to their possible pro-oxidant activities are still unanswered. Most of all, the capacity of the majority of these compounds to cross the blood–brain barrier and reach brain is still unknown. This commentary discusses recent data on these aspects, particularly focusing on effects of curcumin, resveratrol and catechins on Alzheimer's disease.