Polyphenols are well discussed in the scientific literature but not commonly addressed in the everyday health-scene.Despite having a very technical name, polyphenols are simply just plant-based antioxidants, or in simpler words; a type of medicine that comes from plants.
There have been more than 8000 polyphenols identified to this date. Apart from having multiple health benefits, polyphenols also give fruits their beautiful colors and aromas.
What Exactly Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are basically micronutrients that are derived from plant-based foods. When consuming plant-based foods, it is interesting to note that more polyphenols are generally found on the outside of the plant as opposed to the inside of the plant.
The single most significant benefit of polyphenols is that they are strong antioxidants and therefore are very efficient at fighting stress-related trauma in your body. Polyphenols can be divided into 4 subcategories(1):
- Phenolic acids.
Each of these categories reflects a different source from which the polyphenols are derived.
How Do Polyphenols Help Your Body?
Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants. Antioxidants aid in protecting your body against free radicals caused by oxidative stress. Stated in a more simple way; Polyphenols work to repair the damage that has been done to your tissues and organs due to a poor diet or stressful lifestyle.
What Diseases Do Polyphenols Prevent Against?
Polyphenols aid against diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.
One longitudinal study suggests that polyphenols, particularly flavonoids, are highly useful in aiding against coronary heart disease. This study followed the progress of 803 men above the age of 65 for over a period of 5 years.
The results revealed that men who ate more flavonoid-containing foods had a lower rate of coronary heart disease (2).
A study published in the Neurobiology of Aging asserts the fantastic capability of polyphenols to improve your brain function, especially with regards to memory(3). The study reveals that polyphenols not only improve memory but have the capability of reversing age-related cognitive decline as well.
Foods High In Polyphenols:
Research published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition(4) detailed a list of foods containing varying levels of polyphenols. Foods containing some of the highest polyphenol content are:
3.Cocoa Powder- 3448mg/100g
4.Mexican Oregano- 2319mg/100g
5.Dark Chocolate- 1664mg/100g
I’m sure most of us are overjoyed for another excuse to indulge in some chocolate! As you can see, chocolate is a food that is high in polyphenols. Quite surprisingly, chocolate has other health benefits as well, such as being able to give your brain a boost.
Polyphenols As Supplements:
If you find it hard to fit these micronutrient-rich foods into your diet, you can always opt for taking polyphenol supplements. Studies have been done with both the whole foods and the polyphenol supplements.
The results are that polyphenol supplements definitely aid the body in recovery and fighting oxidative stress. However, be sure to keep consuming the whole foods that contain polyphenols as well to ensure your body benefits maximally(5).
Polyphenols are micronutrients that can aid your body against diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and coronary heart disease. You can find polyphenols in a wide variety of fruits, seeds, and other foods. You can also opt to take the supplements as well.
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