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What Are Polyphenol Nutrients And Why Do You Need Them?

If you are conscious about your health and wish to follow a diet that keeps health ailments at bay, then you surely must have heard about polyphenols. Over 8000 polyphenols have been identified in foods such as fruits, chocolates, vegetables, tea, wine, extra virgin oil, etc. Polyphenols are considered important as these play a major role in the overall wellness of the human body.

What Are Polyphenols?

These are phytochemicals found abundantly in plant food sources that are naturally available and show antioxidant features. Antioxidants, as are widely known, help in protecting the cells of the body from free radical damage. These, therefore, control the rate at which one ages. Without this nutrient, your cells can become poorly damaged causing tissue degradation.

Polyphenols are broken down into categories based on the number of phenol rings that they contain. Higher levels of polyphenols are found in the outer layer of plants when compared to the inner layers.

The most understood polyphenol group is the flavonoids. Flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These are ideally found in legumes, red wine, green tea, fruits and vegetables.

How Do Polyphenols Benefit Your Body?

Known for their diverse biological properties, polyphenols are known for the following health benefits:


Fight free radicals:

Polyphenols are antioxidants that have ample health benefits. When these circulate in the body, cell damage from free radicals is delayed to a great extent. Polyphenols protect the overall health by fighting free radicals. They prevent damage from oxidation. Free radicals are nothing but molecules that are highly reactive and steal electrons, for instance from the cell wall or from a strand of DNA.


Stabilize blood pressure:

Elevated blood pressure is said to be lowered by polyphenols. High blood pressure levels can lead to cardiovascular health ailments. The most promising food for this health benefit is dark chocolate and coffee. These improve cardiovascular functionalities and show protective effects. The presence of antioxidant features have been associated with regulation of blood sugar levels.


Maintain sugar levels:

Polyphenols have been associated with lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes. These are known for their ability to boost insulin sensitivity. One particular flavonoid, known as flavan-3-ol has been identified to be quite effective in lowering insulin resistance. Studies have shown that people who consumed a lot of flavonoid-rich foods had the least chances of developing type 2 diabetes. One of the richest sources of flavonoids is unprocessed cocoa. This comes straight from the cacao plant and, therefore, does not have any added sugar.


Promote brain health:

One of the severe forms of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. The risk of this disease can be reduced along with a delay in the onset of dementia with age when the body is provided with polyphenol nutrients. Resveratrol is found in red wine and grape skins. This has been found to provide neuroprotective attributes. With the proper intake of polyphenol, brain health is said to be significantly improved.


Treat cardiovascular diseases:

Flavonoid polyphenols are known to reduce the clumping of platelets in the blood. This leads to the improvement in the functionality of the cells that line the arteries and the veins. Clumping of platelets is the prime culprit when talking about heart attacks. Also being powerful antioxidants, polyphenols can inhibit the vascular endothelial growth factor. This being the reason that creates issues with atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries.


Treat inflammation:

Animal studies have shown that green tea polyphenols can have positive effects on inflammation after exercise. Rats who received shots of this were active for longer durations than those who did not. Chemicals in the blood that signal inflammation and muscle damage were also noticeably lower in these rats who received tea polyphenols. A class of polyphenols, lignans, is found highly in virgin olive oil, whole grain rye flour and flaxseed.

What Are The Foods Containing Polyphenols?

Following is a list of foods that contain polyphenols:



This tops the list of foods that contain polyphenols. Per 100 g of cloves contain about 15,188 mg polyphenols.



This is another fruit that contains ample polyphenols. About 100 g of apples would contain 136 mg polyphenols.



Dark chocolate, due to its high cocoa content, ranked eighth in the list of top foods containing polyphenols. 100 g of dark chocolate contains about 1664 mg polyphenols.



100 g of cocoa powder contains about 3448 mg polyphenols. This ranked fourth in the list of top foods containing polyphenols.



A large number of fruits contain polyphenols, blackcurrants are one of them. 100 g of this fruit contains about 758 mg polyphenols.



Nuts have high nutritional value. They have high polyphenol content. About 100 g of hazelnuts contain 495 mg polyphenols.


Red wine:

This is a favourite choice of many due to the antioxidants that it provide. Per 100 ml of red wine has about 101 mg polyphenols. Rose and white wine have lower amount of polyphenols compared to red wine.



This is one vegetable with high amount of polyphenols. 100 g of this contains about 260 mg polyphenols.

Read more about: nutrients
Story first published: Saturday, September 8, 2018, 15:30 [IST]