You might have heard that when deciding what natural foods to eat, “the more colorful, the better.” There is some truth to this. The variety of colors and flavors present in different fruits and vegetables is due to the polyphenols that they contain. It turns out that these character-giving chemicals contribute greatly to overall health.
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are micronutrients that exist in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and many other types of plant life, per draxe.com. We call polyphenols “character-giving” because such a wide variety of them exists, and different polyphenols are present in all different types of plants. Hence, this is why every different fruit or vegetable has a different taste and color.
There are more than 500 different polyphenols that we know of, per medicalnewstoday.com. Breaking it down further, there are four different types of polyphenols: flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans, per draxe.com. Flavonoids and phenolic acids are especially notable because they are responsible for the flavors in many types of vegetables, are ubiquitous in plants, and provide a variety of health-boosting roles (per a study mentioned on sciencedirect.com. If you are not inclined to consume fruits and vegetables regularly, a polyphenol supplement might be a good alternative.
How Can Polyphenols Boost My Health?
Protect against heart disease. Polyphenols are well-recognized for their antioxidant properties, per healthline.com. Among other things, antioxidants help to reduce inflammation, which is a primary risk factor for various types of heart disease. Polyphenol consumption is also linked to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, which is a common contributor to heart disease. Consider adding in a variety of vegetables to your diet, as they may be one of the best anticarcinogens on the market.
Diminish inflammation. Like we’ve already mentioned, polyphenols play a role in reducing inflammation. Specifically, they do this by reducing the oxidative stress put on your body that contributes to inflammation, per draxe.com. Reducing inflammation is important because if it continues long term, it can contribute to an overactive (and harmful) immune response and other issues. Therefore, the anti-inflammatory nature of polyphenols might help reduce symptoms in this with inflammatory conditions.
Help control blood-sugar level. Polyphenols may have a dual effect on regulating excessive blood sugar levels; They can both increase your body’s insulin production, and reduce excess simple-sugar production from consuming starches, per draxe.com. An excess blood sugar level can lead to, among other things, the development of type 2 diabetes, and regular consumption of polyphenols can help prevent that, per draxe.com.
Positive neurological effects. Regular consumption of polyphenols may help ward off dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other effects of aging on the brain, per healthyfocus.org. This could be because of the anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols, since inflammation is linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Polyphenols may also help prevent other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke, per healthyfocus.org.
Great source of antioxidants. As we’ve mentioned already, polyphenols are antioxidants, and antioxidants can be powerful. Per draxe.com, antioxidants can help neutralize free radicals (which are commonly produced in the body yet have multiple negative effects), and help prevent disease. Stress, pollution, and diet all play a role in free radical development. Consuming a fair amount of polyphenols daily, whether through diet or supplementation, may help undo the damage done by free radicals.