What are polyphenols and why do they matter? What makes them so special? Well, these compounds have a positive influence on just about every aspect of your health. What’s more is that not getting enough of them can be problematic. So in the midst of all the new year’s resolutions to eat better, make a concerted effort to fill up your basket with foods rich in polyphenols.
So what exactly can polyphenols do for your body?
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are compounds found in the plants we eat, protecting and bolstering our health. They are predominantly in fruits and vegetables but also in teas, coffee, dark chocolate, red wine and spices. It’s really easy to get them in your system! They are powerful antioxidants that help our bodies stay strong and robust.
What do polyphenols do?
If you haven’t heard of “free radicals”, they are the molecules that help drive our immune system. But when there are too many of them, we can experience inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, dementia and even cancer.
If you haven’t read up on inflammation, read this article next
Antioxidants help neutralise and control free radicals, so it’s important our diets are full of the antioxidant-rich foods. More polyphenols means healthier for longer.
- Polyphenol’s anti-inflammatory properties help drive down inflammation. This helps keep all the body’s systems in check and unnecessary-stress free
- Heart health significantly improved through lower blood pressure and higher levels of HDL for better cholesterol levels
- Research into the probiotic benefits of polyphenols is promising and may even help protect against leaky gut
- A plant-rich diet has proven highly effective in preventing cancers – many researchers believe this is due to polyphenols in fruits and vegetables.
How to get the most benefit
The key to reaping the benefits of these compounds is eating a variety of all the plant world has to offer. Why, you ask? Well, scientists have identified over 8000 compounds across four major families. While it all gets very scientific, the point is that not all 8000 compounds are found in a single fruit, vegetable, spice etc. When you consume different kinds of produce, you’re covering all your bases!
“When you consider that 2/3 of the calories that of by-products from three crops – wheat, corn, soy – it’s no surprise that we’ve got some major nutritional gaps that leave us vulnerable to the so called ‘diseases of aging’” says longevity specialist, Dr Frank Lipman.
To put it simply: the best way to get all the polyphenols is to eat the rainbow! Here’s how.
Foods Highest in Polyphenols You Should Be Eating
If you don’t know about Polyphenols, please read our article on why they are crucial for your overall health. Essentially, they are a compound found in many fruits, vegetables and other foods, that
Nuts, Seeds and Beans:
- Flax Seed – ground are great for sprinkling
- Almonds – raw are best
- White Beans
- Black Beans
- Apples – lower in sugar ones like Granny Smiths
- Berries – think raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
- Citrus fruits – like grapefruit and lemons
Vegetables and spices
- Green Onions
- Spices – like cinnamon, turmeric, basil, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, etc
- Olive oil – extra virgin
- Dark Chocolate – you want the 75%
- Green Tea