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!


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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Brain Aging

When it comes to brain health, brain aging is of course what we want to slow down as much as possible. Brain aging entails progressively having less blood flow to the brain, with the nerve cells shrinking and a brain volume that becomes smaller. This impacts your memory and ability to focus. 

In a recent Lifespan podcast with Dr. David Sinclair and co-host Matthew LaPlante, it is mentioned that “the volume of the brain after the age of 40 reduces about 5% per decade.” The good news is that “the brain ages slower than the rest of the body” and there is a lot we can do to tackle this problem whether it’s consuming enough polyphenols, increasing BDNF in a variety of ways, selecting a few brain training exercises, and many other things.


Polyphenols are those brightly colored antioxidants found in foods like blueberries, raspberries, green tea, red cabbage, coffee, and cacao, to name a few. Polyphenols help shield your 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 your BDNF levels high.


BDNF is a protein that enhances your existing brain cells and makes new ones. BDNF also aids with maintaining your brain resiliency. As the years go by, it’s common to lose BDNF, which may affect brain health, memory, and focus. The good news is that you can actually boost BDNF with a great number of simple daily habits: 

  • Everyday movement and exercise
  • A regular meditation practice
  • A simple yoga practice
  • Good quality sleep (especially deep sleep)
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Social connection
  • Adequate sunlight exposure

Brain Training Exercises

As mentioned in a previous post, choose fun, creative intellectual activities/hobbies to keep your mind sharp such as reading, writing, problem-solving, and/or musical training. I also like to play brain training games on BrainHQ and Lumosity. And the Duolingo app is a lot of fun to practice a language with! Nerve cells are like muscles — you can prime them so they can become stronger and perform better. Brain exercises can aid with staving off memory loss. 

Have you tried dual N-back training? It’s a form of progressive brain training that boosts your problem-solving abilities, memory, and imagination. Something to try for sure. As Brant Cortright, Ph. D. states, “Each brain requires special nourishment, and we must experiment with different activities to find out what works for us, what we enjoy doing, and what our optimal engagement is.” Cognitive decline can be slowed down in so many different ways.

Until next time!


“Brain Health: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Brain Young and Strong.” Dave Asprey, 12 Nov. 2019, daveasprey.com/brain-health/#ref-list. Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

Lipman, Dr Frank. “How BDNF Keeps Your Brain Healthy and How to Boost Yours.” Frank Lipman MD, 17 Jan 2022, drfranklipman.com/2022/01/17/how-bdnf-keeps-your-brain-healthy-and-how-to-boost-yours/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2022.

Sinclair, Lifespan with Dr David. “Lifespan with Dr. David Sinclair – the Science of Keeping the Brain Healthy | Episode 7.” Google Podcasts, 16 Feb. 2022, podcasts.google.com/Accessed 27 Feb. 2022.

Sperlazza, Courtney. “8 Ways to Keep Your Brain Young as You Age.” Bulletproof, 2 June 2021, http://www.bulletproof.com/supplements/age-immune/brain-health-2/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2022.

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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!


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.