Experts argue that incorporating seemingly decadent treats like chocolate and red wine into your diet can have positive health benefits like a longer life. The majority of these studies indicate that polyphenols are responsible for these health benefits.
The chemical compounds at the center of the health industry are being examined by more and more researchers for their effects on the human body. Studies over the years have shown that polyphenols can prevent serious disease and help people live longer.
This article provides an overview of polyphenol-rich foods and their associated health benefits. Polyphenols are a type of phytonutrient (plant chemical) that have been shown to offer a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Foods that are particularly high in polyphenols include fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, coffee, chocolate, and red wine.
There are over 500 types of polyphenols, which are micronutrients found mainly in plants. These naturally occurring chemicals have been documented by scientists.
The groups are based on how many rings make up the molecule. They are: phenolic acids, phenolic lipids, phenolic aldehydes, and phenolic esters. Polyphenols are characterized by the presence of phenols and hydroxyl groups of acids. These substances can be classified into four main categories according to the number of rings in their molecule: phenolic acids, phenolic lipids, phenolic aldehydes, and phenolic esters.
The colors of plants are due to polyphenols, which also help the plants to resist disease and infection. Foods of all kinds contain polyphenols, and these can also be taken in supplement form.
The amount of polyphenols in plants varies a lot. Polyphenols have been linked to many different health benefits because they act as antioxidants. Polyphenols and their subsets such as tannins, are thought to improve the immune system and get rid of free radicals.
The percentage of the chemical that can be easily absorbed by the body is also important. Polyphenols are soluble in fat.
It is more beneficial to consume polyphenols with foods that also contain healthy fats, as this allows the body to absorb more of the nutrients. There are four main types of polyphenols, each of which has different effects on the body.
There are many food sources of polyphenols. Vegetables, fruits and teas are packed full of polyphenols.
Most of the polyphenols you consume should come from food sources, as these tend to be more reliable than supplements. It can be difficult to judge the quality and health benefits of supplements, as they are not as closely regulated.
If you consume the recommended daily amounts of the following foods, you will get all the polyphenols you need to stay healthy.
1. Herbs and Spices
The unassuming spice rack is actually a great place to get a polyphenol boost.
Herbs and spices are rich in polyphenols, with some of the best sources being cloves, peppermint, cilantro, sage, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, and thyme.
Ginger is good for promoting health and longevity because it contains compounds that create an antioxidant effect, reducing damage from free radicals in the body.
When black pepper is consumed with turmeric, it helps the body more easily absorb the latter’s beneficial curcuminoids; however, black pepper has many benefits of its own.
The active compound pepperine has been shown to improve cognition and overall brain function, which allows the brain to age more gracefully.
Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your cooking and expand your culinary horizons they’ve also been shown to protect against chronic disease and reduce inflammation.
Whipping up a batch of chicken pho is a great way to get your daily dose of garlic. This dish is also packed with polyphenols, which are beneficial for your health.
2. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate are among the richest sources of polyphenols. Flavonoids, a type of polyphenol, are known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic abilities.
To get all the heart-healthy benefits from chocolate, you should look for chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao.
If you don’t like the bitter taste of dark chocolate or cocoa powder, milk chocolate is a good option because it still has a small amount of polyphenols. However, make sure to choose a brand that doesn’t have too much sugar added.
Your favorite chocolate can be enjoyed in many ways, including making a cup of hot chocolate or adding cocoa powder to your morning smoothie.
Berries are excellent sources of anthocyanins, which are flavonoids known for their ability to stave off oxidative stress, cardiovascular issues, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The addition of these colorful and fiber-rich fruits can brighten up your morning oatmeal or cereal. They also make a great topping for yogurt or a simple dessert when paired with dark chocolate. You’ll be getting a double-whammy of polyphenols if you go this route.
4. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are a plant-based source of omega-3 fats and are also rich in polyphenols.
Flax seeds are an excellent source of lignans- a type of polyphenol that is mostly found in legumes, cereals, and other whole grains. Lignans have been linked to protection against heart disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis.
One way to make it easier to add flax seeds to your diet is to purchase them already ground. This makes them easy to add to a morning smoothie, mix in with oatmeal, or use as a substitute for eggs or breadcrumbs.
Whole flax seeds can be used to top salads, add to a granola recipe, or bring some crunch to yogurt.
5. Olives and Olive Oil
Olive oil is a key component of the healthy Mediterranean diet and is linked to a long life.
Black olives have twice as many polyphenols as green olives, making them both excellent sources of this micronutrient. You can enjoy olives as a snack, on top of pasta or salad, or as part of a cheese board.
To get the best quality olive oil, make sure it is extra-virgin, cold-pressed, and organic. This will give you the most health benefits.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in lignans, a type of polyphenol. Lignans are found in plants and are similar to the phytoestrogens found in flax.
Whole-grain flours, breads, pastas, cereals, and rice contain polyphenols, which have been linked to longevity, as well as plant protein, fiber, B vitamins, and several types of minerals, including magnesium.
If you’re looking to add more grains to your diet, there are plenty of ways to do it. Cooked quinoa or farro can bulk up a salad, or you can use ancient grain flour the next time you bake your own bread. If you’re looking for something more traditional, Ezekiel bread is a great option for toast in the morning.
7. Coffee and Tea
You will experience many health benefits from polyphenols whether you drink Earl Gray tea or freshly ground coffee to start your day.
Coffee and tea are both good sources of phenolic acids and green tea is also a good source of flavonoids, which are both types of polyphenols.
Coffee contains several vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to the body, such as Vitamin B5 and potassium. Additionally, coffee has prebiotics which help to regulate digestion.
There are many benefits to drinking tea, including supporting cognitive function, strengthening your cardiovascular system, and helping your skin look radiant.
If you drink coffee or tea in the morning or afternoon, keep doing it. If you don’t drink either and are worried about caffeine, try a green or white tea, which has less caffeine than coffee, or an herbal tea with no caffeine.
Health Benefits of Polyphenols
Polyphenols are healthy antioxidants that can help prevent serious disease and protect the health of human organs. Polyphenols can be found in many different foods, including fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Recent studies have found that polyphenols, which are found in tea and plant-based foods, can help to prevent heart and brain disease, as well as treat digestive issues and potentially cancer. For more information on the health benefits of polyphenols, read on.
1. Regulate Type 2 Diabetes
As more people in the United States and Europe consume unhealthy diets, the number of cases of Type 2 Diabetes has increased dramatically. The long-term effects of diabetes include vision problems, ulcers, and amputation.
Tea catechins and polyphenols have been shown to be effective in preventing and regulating symptoms of diabetes.
A study from 2005 found that people who regularly drink tea are less likely to experience long-term complications from diabetes. This is because tea contains catechins like EGCG, which have antioxidant properties.
A second study found that the flavonoids in tea can help to mimic the role of insulin. Research shows that polyphenols help to inhibit glucose absorption.
The chemicals stilbene resveratrol and isoflavones help to regulate the movement of glucose from the stomach to the intestines, and prevent or reduce insulin resistance.
2. May Treat Cancer
The antioxidants in tea polyphenols help to protect DNA from oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which can help to treat certain types of cancer.
The presence of free radicals has been linked to the development of certain types of cancer. A study published by Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that flavonoids in green tea help to protect cells from free radicals.
A second study published by Pharmacology Research demonstrated that polyphenols can help to prevent cancer cells from changing and deter tumor growth.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ American National Cancer Institute has also addressed how tea consumption can impact cancer prevention and treatment.
The evidence suggests that polyphenols may help to prevent skin cancer caused by UV radiation, as well as inhibiting the growth of existing skin cancers.
Theaflavin and thearubigin have also been shown to have strong anti-cancer activity.
The polyphenols in black tea help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and in some cases, can cause cancer cells to die.
Quercetin and resveratrol have been shown to be effective in preventing and treating cancer. Quercetin, in particular, has shown great promise in treating lung cancer due to its ability to scavenge free radicals.
Resveratrol has shown the most potential and has been successful in treating all stages of cancer. It is most effective against lung, skin, breast, and colorectal cancer.
3. Prevent Heart Disease
There are many things that can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Smoking, eating a lot of fats and sugar, and having certain genes can make it more likely that you will get cardiovascular disease.
Polyphenols act as antioxidants to help protect against risks to heart health.
One of the most common heart ailments is atherosclerosis. This disease occurs when medium-sized arteries are damaged by chronic inflammation.
If this disease goes untreated, it can lead to a heart attack or cardiac arrest. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is one of the main contributors to atherosclerosis. Polyphenols help to get rid of this oxidation and also lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
Substances like catechins and polyphenols, found in black tea, are linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, according to a 2001 study. The study found that consuming two cups of black tea per day for one month can help to offset the negative effects of a high-fat diet.
Another study found that consuming black tea regularly could lower blood pressure.
The study found that 218 women over the age of 70 who regularly consumed black tea were at lower risk of developing heart disease.
4. Protect Brain Health
The phenolic compounds present in plants can help to protect the nervous system and prevent degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Anti-oxidative compounds in green tea help protect brain function and cognition by targeting free radicals. Catechins such as EGCG and phenolic acids are responsible for these powerful health benefits.
The study found that polyphenol-rich fruit juices may help to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
After the study was over, the people who had drunk fruit juice at least three times per week were much less likely to get the neurological disease than those who didn’t drink it as often.
Other studies have found that resveratrol can help protect brain cognition. These chemicals work by sending signals to stop the proliferation of mutated cells and can even trigger attacks on oxidized cells, which can cause brain diseases.
ECGC prevents damage from the neurotoxin MPTP, which causes neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
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5. Streamline Digestion
Certain polyphenols help improve digestion by triggering the production of stomach acid, which helps break down food. Catechins can also help prevent diseases such as stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.
This enables the small intestine to better absorb nutrients.
Polyphenols help improve your gut health in several ways. They increase the amount of healthy bacteria, which leads to better digestion and fewer stomach problems. They also work to combat bad bacteria.
Some teas boast antibacterial properties that can help eliminate bacteria such as listeria and E.coli. If you are specifically looking for a tea that focuses on gut health, try to find one with these properties.
6. Boast Anti-Aging Properties
Polyphenols present in tea and foods can help to slow down the aging process by boosting repair mechanisms and preventing oxidative stress.
Polyphenols are anti-aging chemicals that improve the appearance of skin and support longevity.
Polyphenols help to decrease free radical activity that can cause signs of premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. Green tea catechins and flavonoids are particularly useful in the fight against aging.
Flavonoids, such as anthocyanins, help to regenerate cells, resulting in more youthful skin. EGCG works to prevent oxidation that can lead to cell damage, which results in dull, dry skin.