Current research on dietary antioxidants misses the so-called non-extractable polyphenols (NEPP), which are not significantly released from the food matrix either by mastication, acid pH in the stomach or action of digestive enzymes, reaching the colon nearly intact. NEPP, not detected by the usual analytical procedures, are made up of macromolecules and single phenolic compounds associated with macromolecules. Therefore, NEPP are not included in food and dietary intake data nor in bioavailability, intervention or observational studies. The present paper aims to provide an overview of dietary NEPP – nature, occurrence in diet, metabolic fate and possible health effects. NEPP are a relevant fraction of dietary polyphenols exerting their main biological action in the colon, where they are extensively fermented by the action of microbiota, giving place to absorbable metabolites. NEPP exhibit different potential health-related properties, in particular in relation to gastrointestinal health, such as increases in antioxidant and antiproliferative capacities, reduction of intestinal tumorigenesis and modification of gene expression, as observed in different animal models. Further research into NEPP may provide a better understanding of the health effects of dietary antioxidants.