Polyphenols are compounds found in plant foods and which provide various benefits to those who consume them. Here is a look at these unique substances, and a look at some polyphenols that are available in supplement form, and the health benefits that are capable of providing.
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are natural substances that exist in plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, wine, and chocolate. There are more than 8,000 different naturally-occurring polyphenols, and they are divided into four categories: flavonoids, phenolic acids, polyphenolic amides, and other polyphenols.
Polyphenols have various health benefits. They are renowned for being effective antioxidants. Antioxidants work to prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals; Free radicals are produced as a result of normal cell processes, as well as exposure to air pollution, smoking, and other environmental toxins.
Polyphenol Supplements and Their Benefits
The concentrated benefits of polyphenols can be available by taking a supplement that contains them. Various polyphenol supplements can be purchased over the counter, and each of them is a little different. Here are some of the best polyphenol supplements you can get your hands on:
Green tea extract is rich in polyphenols, especially one called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Studies show that taking green tea extract significantly bolsters the body's antioxidant capacity. Green tea extract can reduce inflammation, help manage blood pressure, and lower LDL cholesterol, all of which when left unchecked might contribute to reduced risk of heart disease. The polyphenols in green tea extract also prevent oxidative stress in the brain, which supports memory and cognitive function, and helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.
Resveratrol is a highly effective polyphenol which exists in its own category. Studies show resveratrol has heart-protecting benefits including preventing blood vessel damage, lowering cholesterol, and preventing unhealthy blood clots. Furthermore, resveratrol effectively reduces inflammation throughout the body, including the nervous system. Studies show that resveratrol slows or outright stops changes in biomarkers which indicate the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Grape seed extract (GSE) is derived from grape seeds, and it contains polyphenols known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes. Studies support the use of GSE for specific needs, to include supporting bone strength and formation in those with weak bones (when taken with calcium); preventing damage to blood vessels; and protecting neurons in the hippocampus, thereby preventing cognitive loss during aging.
Blueberry extract contains quercetin and other polyphenols. Studies have shown a correlation between taking blueberry extract and improved memory performance in older adults, as well as improved endothelial function in the arteries.
Bilberry extract is made from bilberries, which are similar to blueberries. It contains polyphenols known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins can help improve eye function in those with normal-tension glaucoma, and possibly help with eye fatigue as well. They can also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar levels in those with diabetes.
Polyphenols are natural, powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances. As you can see, the concentrated polyphenols in these supplements can have real benefits for the heart, brain, eyes and more. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking one of these polyphenol supplements for the first time.