We all know that we need antioxidants in our diet, but many of us aren’t familiar with the various types of antioxidants in different foods and their potency or capabilities. One type of antioxidant that I’m crazy about lately is polyphenols.
Polyphenols are phytochemicals that are found in vegetables, spices (particularly dried spices), and even red wine. They are what gives fruits and veggies their vibrant color and they protect produce from oxidative damage, pathogens and ultraviolet radiation. Phytochemicals are plant based compounds that act as antioxidants – so whenever a health practitioner or resource talks about phytochemicals, they are referring to these plant based antioxidants.
There are also different types of polyphenols consisting of stilbenes, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and lignans.
- Stilbenes are found in red wine (you may of already heard that red wine contains resveratrol – which is a stilbene polyphenol.
- Flavonoids consist of many different types of subgroups and are found in green tea, legumes, fruits, dark chocolate, veggies, and red wine.
- Phenolic acids are found in coffee, tea, and fruits.
Herbs with high polyphenol levels:
- Celery seed
How polyphenols work:
- They fight free radicals and protect our cells from getting damaged.
- Promotes brain health.
- Fights against cancer cells.
- Protects your skin from UV damage.
- Reduces inflammation in the body.
- Helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Helps prevent neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease.
- They also act as a prebiotic by fueling the good bacteria in your gut.
How to get the most out of polyphenols in your diet:
Polyphenols are fat soluble meaning that they will be more bio-available (absorbing in your body at a better rate) if they are consumed with fats. So for example, you can make kale guacamole by chopping up dinosour kale and adding it to your next batch of quac for a healthy dose of antioxidants.
It’s also important to guy organic produce as the levels of polyphenols in organic fruits and vegetables is higher.
Links to studies: If you want to learn more about polyphenols and the clinical studies behind them, you can check out these resources.