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Polyphenols and the Health Benefits You Need to Know About

  • 5 min read


by Matt Weik

I know what you may be thinking… Poly what? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. While some of you may have heard of polyphenols (perhaps in the news), most people have absolutely no clue what they are. And that’s ok.

In this article, we will look at what polyphenols are, their benefits, the foods that are naturally rich in them, and if you should consider utilizing a polyphenol supplement if you aren’t getting enough through your daily nutrition plan.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the hidden superfood in the kitchen: Polyphenols!

 What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are the naturally occurring compounds found in plants. They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and provide various potential health benefits. From reducing the risk of heart diseases to improving brain functioning, polyphenols help improve overall health.

The Benefits of Polyphenols

Below are some of the benefits generally associated with polyphenols.

1.      Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

Undoubtedly, fruits and vegetables are well-known to support heart health. The antioxidant properties present in polyphenols help reduce the risk of heart disease. As per studies, pomegranate juice contains high amounts of polyphenols that help to reduce oxidative stress and can protect the body from free radical damage.

As per the Journal of Nutrition, cocoa contains flavonoids that can help in reducing systolic blood pressure and LDL levels. Also, it can increase the high-density lipoprotein. This, in turn, has the ability to improve blood flow through arteries.

2.      Reduce the risk of Type-2 diabetes

Because of junk food and an unhealthy diet, the cases of Type-2 diabetes have skyrocketed in the past few years.

Polyphenols help regulate the blood sugar level, which reduces the risk of Type-2 diabetes. According to research, polyphenols help prevent the breakdown of starch into sugar which can instantly raise blood sugar levels.

3.      Reduce the risk of cancer

Polyphenols also contain anti-cancer properties that can help treat various types of cancer. It protects the DNA from oxidative stress and helps prevent cells from getting damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, free radicals are known to be responsible for the development of various types of cancer. As per studies, polyphenols prevent cancer cells from mutating and potentially causing health issues.

Foods That Are Rich in Polyphenols

Here are some food items that you can include in your nutrition plan to help get a daily dose of polyphenols:

1.      Cloves

Cloves are the richest in polyphenols. In total, there is 15,188mg of polyphenols per 100 grams of cloves. Apart from cloves, there are other seasonings like peppermint and star anise, which are rich in polyphenols.

2.      Dark chocolate and cocoa powder

Yes! Taste and health benefits can be together. Cocoa powder is the fourth richest item after cloves, peppermint, and star anise, with 3,448mg of polyphenols per 100 grams. Even milk chocolates are on the list.

3.      Berries

There are various types of berries that contain polyphenols in different quantities. Now, you might be thinking about which one contains the most so that you can add it to your daily nutrition plan? So, here it is… Black Chokeberry. It contains more than 1700mg of polyphenols per 100 grams.

4.      Other fruits

As per the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are various other fruits rich in polyphenols like apples, plums, and many more.

5.      Vegetables

Veggies contain fewer polyphenols as compared to fruits. Vegetables like red onion, spinach, and others are rich in polyphenols.

6.      Green tea

Love the taste of green tea? You can sip the beverage you love and enjoy the potential health benefits. Green tea contains 89mg of polyphenol per 100 grams.

7.      Red wine

If you are a red wine lover, here’s some good news for you. Red wine is rich in antioxidants and contains 101mg of polyphenols per 100 ml. Pour a glass and enjoy the benefits (but drink responsibly).

Polyphenol Supplements

 If you are not able to obtain enough polyphenols from a natural source in your nutrition plan and need more support, you can try polyphenol supplements. But make sure to consult a medical professional before you add supplements to your routine to ensure they will not interact with any medication you may be taking.

Here are a few safety considerations:

As per the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a few polyphenol supplements can interact with various medications. For example, Quercetin can interact with warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding.

Apart from that, studies show that polyphenol supplements can increase the risk of thyroid, genotoxicity, carcinogenic effects, and more. So, it is better to consult a professional to determine the best dose per your individual needs.

Start Adding Polyphenols to Your Daily Nutrition Plan

Having a balanced nutrition plan is the best way to increase the polyphenols intake as it is present in various fruits and vegetables. And, what’s better than enjoying the health benefits while eating something you love? Find the foods or beverages from the list found in this article and start adding them to your plan to enjoy all the health benefits.