Polyphenols: What Are They?
As mentioned in my last post about brain health, polyphenols are brightly colored antioxidants found in plants we consume like blueberries, raspberries, green tea, red cabbage, coffee, dark chocolate, and many spices. These plant compounds (about 8,000 of them) help to fight aging and inflammation in the body. Eating a wide variety of polyphenols is key in order to support your heart, gut, and brain, among other things. So “eating the rainbow” is not a “if I find the time” kind of option.
When you are eating an array of polyphenols every day, it can benefit your health on many levels. Of course, knowing that we are all unique individuals with specific requirements and sensitivities, you should always see which foods work better for you and buy accordingly.
Polyphenols Health Benefits
Consuming many types of vegetables and fruits, ideally organic and/or local, can be very rewarding. Eating delicious colorful meals every day is uplifting and beneficial in more than one way. Here are the main health benefits polyphenols are known for:
- Whole-body health: Polyphenols like curcumin can help tamping down pain and inflammation. They help to deal with the effects of free radicals (unstable molecules that create stress and aging in the body) and aid with decreasing inflammation.
- Heart health: High polyphenol intake helps lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease, with a lower LDL and higher HDL and it possibly lowers blood pressure too.
- Metabolic health: High polyphenol intake may help decrease blood sugar spikes and better insulin sensitivity, so this lessens type 2 diabetes risk.
- Gut health: Polyphenol-rich plants like green tea can help feed the good bacteria in the gut, polyphenols being in this case “a super-charged prebiotic.”
- Brain health: As mentioned in my previous post, polyphenols help shield the brain from stress and free radical damage while aiding with bettering learning and memory. When it comes to slowing down brain aging, along with several other strategies, unprocessed polyphenol-rich foods help maintain high BDNF levels.
Examples of Polyphenol-Rich Foods
Here’s a short list of polyphenol-rich foods. Some plants contain more polys than others. Start with your favorites and maybe add a few more progressively. The more variety, the better.
- Berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries
- Citrus fruits
- Coffee (decaf too)
- Dark Chocolate – at least 85% cacao
- Flax Seed
- Green Tea
- Green Onions
- Herbs and spices like cinnamon, turmeric, basil, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, etc
- Olive oil
How many of these are you already consuming regularly?
Until next time!
Lipman, Dr Frank. “6 Ways Polyphenols Will Make Your Health Soar.” Frank Lipman
health-soar/. Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.
“Polyphenols: What They Are, Why They Work, & How to Eat More of Them.” Dave
Asprey, 23 Apr. 2019, daveasprey.com/polyphenols-220419/. Accessed 12 Mar. 2022.
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