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.

How many of these are you already consuming regularly? 

Until next time!

References

Lipman, Dr Frank. “6 Ways Polyphenols Will Make Your Health Soar.” Frank Lipman

MD,10Jan.2022,MD,drfranklipman.com/2022/01/10/6-ways-polyphenols-will-make-your-

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.

You can also find me on Instagram.

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Brain Health

Brain health is essential to overall health. The brain is a “point of communication” that controls the body. Brain health has a direct impact on our thoughts, feelings, and movements. Nourishing the brain is paramount to maintaining proper health.

There is a group of foods that are proven to nourish the brain and help protect it from oxidative stress. These foods are like a premium fuel source for our brain. In a previous post, 10 Awesome Brain-Boosting Foods, I listed 10 nutrient-dense foods, full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help better our brain, mood, energy levels, and overall health. This time, the focus is going to be on 5 of those brain health foods: dark chocolate, nuts, fatty fish, turmeric, and green tea. I find myself consuming these almost every day!

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is good for focus and concentration. It can boost endorphin levels. The flavonoids in chocolate can help enhance memory and cognitive function by boosting blood flow to the brain. Go for at least 75% dark chocolate, organic and fair trade, if possible. My favorite is 90% dark chocolate (as I have to watch my blood sugar closely).

Nuts

Likewise, eating nuts helps with memory and cognitive function. Nuts are loaded with brain-healthy fats including omega-3 fatty acids (in some) and nutrients like vitamin E, which are good against oxidative stress-related damage and cognitive decline. My favorites are pistachios, almonds, and walnuts. The latter offer quite a bit of omega-3 fatty acids.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish, with its high omega-3 fatty acid content, is beneficial to overall brain health, including memory and learning. It also helps to stave off cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids help strengthen the brain cells’ membranes and the synaptic connections between neurons. Look for environmentally friendly, low-mercury, and wild-caught fish like sockeye salmon and sardines.

Turmeric

Turmeric (which has the active ingredient curcumin) helps with lowering inflammation, increasing antioxidant levels, enhancing the brain’s oxygen intake, and improving cognitive function. Turmeric is great in a vegetable dish, soup, or smoothie. I have also been taking a curcumin supplement for years now.

Green Tea

Green tea aids with enhancing brain health in numerous ways, such as: preventing cognitive decline and bettering memory, anxiety, focus, alertness, and task performance. Green tea has antioxidant qualities, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-tumorigenic effects, among other things. I love consuming green tea every afternoon.

So, which brain foods are your favorites?    

Until next time!

Reference

Seymour, Jacqueline. “Health Coach Tip – Eat Your Brain Healthy.” Frank Lipman MD, 17 Nov. 2021, drfranklipman.com/2021/11/17/health-coach-tips-eat-your-brain-healthy/. Accessed 25 Nov. 2021.

You can also find me on Instagram.

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Dark Chocolate

Did you know that the Latin name for chocolate, Theobroma Cacao, means “Food of the Gods?” While some types of chocolate offer many health benefits with their antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, it is important to note that most processed, highly sweetened chocolates are not beneficial. If you switch (just like I did when I started eating Paleo) from consuming milk chocolate and white chocolate to at least 75% dark chocolate, you will most likely reap many of the benefits that chocolate has to offer. The health benefits of this high-fiber food are impressive. Check this out!

Defense Against Disease-Causing Free Radicals

The antioxidants in high-cacao content chocolate are believed to help against free radicals (those harmful compounds generated by cellular processes in the body). Those antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols, are helping against inflammation and disease. Chocolate may even be a possible cancer-fighting food.

Enhanced Heart Health

Flavanols (a type of flavonoids) in chocolate help with heart health by lowering blood pressure, boosting blood flow to the heart and brain, and possibly preventing blood platelets from clotting (lessening the risk of stroke).

Helps With Overall Cholesterol Profile

With its healthy fats and polyphenols, the cocoa butter in chocolate helps with bettering lipid profiles, lessening platelet reactivity, and lowering inflammation.

Improved Cognitive Function 

Flavonoid-rich foods like dark chocolate can help with improved brain function and enhanced cognitive performance by boosting blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate is also a possible vision booster.

Antioxidant-Rich Superfood

It has been shown that dark chocolate’s antioxidant capacity and total polyphenol content are superior to those of all superfruit juices, except for pomegranates.

Beneficial to Skin Health

Due to its flavanol content, dark chocolate can help protect against sun damage, lessen skin roughness, boost hydration, and enhance blood flow to the skin.

Did you get your square of dark chocolate today? 

Until next time!

Reference

Annie Price, CHHC. “9 Awesome Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” Dr. Axe, 28 Nov. 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dark-chocolate/. Accessed 20 June 2021.

You can also find me on Instagram.


“On-the-go” healthy snack options can be a lifesaver

During the busy Holiday season, having on-hand healthy snack options can be a big help when we have a weekend-to-do list that is longer than usual. To avoid snacking on unwanted foods, doing a little prep at home beforehand can be a lifesaver. “On-the-go” healthy snack options are easy to put together. And to have those ready when you need them will make you feel good about still taking care of your health while having a zillion other things to do.

12 snack options to have on hand

  • Artichoke hearts (with water, preferably in glass jars)
  • Avocados 
  • Beef jerky (homemade or minimally processed)
  • Dark chocolate: 85 percent cacao or above being better
  • Canned fish: sardines, anchovies, and oysters are my favorites
  • Cut-up raw vegetables with nut butters or guacamole
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-glycemic fruits like berries
  • Nuts and nut butters (not to overdo on those though). As a sidenote, peanuts are a legume, not a nut.
  • Olives
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed or organic cheese made with raw milk (directly from a farm ideally)
  • Slices of cold meat or poultry (with primal/paleo-approved condiments if needed)

The protein bars I enjoy having on hand

When pressed for time, primal/keto-approved bars can be pretty handy too. I particularly enjoy the Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars, Epic Bars (I mentioned the EPIC brand in a previous post regarding pork rings as a snack), and the Design for Health KTO BARS. Having one or two protein bars in your purse or bag at all times is a sure way to satisfy any arising hunger and to stay away from unhealthy snack options.  

In summary

This short list of easy to prepare healthy snack options, paired with occasional good quality protein bars, is an awesome way to stay primal even on the most hectic days!

References

Perlmutter, David, and Kristin Loberg. Grain Brain : The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. New York, Ny, Little, Brown And Co, 2013, p. 247.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 105, 118.

You can also find me on Instagram.