Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in many plant-based foods and are good for our bodies. They are powerful antioxidants, meaning they fight potentially damaging chemicals formed inside our cells as a result of stress and aging.
A polyphenol-rich diet helps keep the heart, nerves, and blood vessels healthy. It maintains skin texture and elasticity and eye health. Polyphenols can protect your organs from infections and even some cancers.
These super nutrients are found in various fruits and vegetables. Colorful vegetables such as eggplants, apples, plums, bell peppers, purple grapes, violet carrots, green tea, and tomatoes are rich in polyphenols. Unlike vitamins, they are not sensitive to oxidation (loss of oxygen) or light and even after cooking are kept well inside the food.
To date, over 8,000 polyphenols have been identified in edible plants and largely classified into four categories based on their chemical structure: flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and stilbenes. Flavonoids and phenolic acids make up most of your polyphenols in your diet, whereas stilbenes and lignans are less common (except, resveratrol in red wine). They also differ as per the site of absorption in the human body. Some of the polyphenols are well absorbed in guts.
We need various polyphenols to keep your gut, brain, and heart strong and healthy. They play a role in
- Brain function improvement: They improve brain functions by boosting brain cell structure and slowing down brain aging and memory.
- Maintaining good gut bacteria: Polyphenol in blueberries may help to grow the number of good bacteria in your gut and improve digestion.
- Maintaining a healthy heart: Flavonoid-rich foods may improve heart health by reducing blood clot formation and inflammation, as well as by lowering blood pressure. Polyphenols such as flavonoids and resveratrol may block and reduce bad cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Blood sugar control: Dietary flavonoids and phenolic acids may help to reduce blood sugar spikes and type 2 diabetes risks. Several polyphenols may prevent and manage diabetes by protecting beta cells of the pancreas from glucose toxicity, reducing inflammation, and slowing down starch digestion.
- Weight management: Various polyphenols including those in green tea may make it easier to maintain or lose weight, potentially through fat cell reduction, inhibition of fat cell production, reduction of inflammation, and increasing energy expenditure. Some polyphenols may have protein-binding properties, which inhibit starch and encourage fat and protein digestion.
- Inflammation reduction: Certain dietary polyphenols may neutralize the effect of free radicals, which are the unstable molecules that cause aging and stress in your body cells. It is also associated with lowering inflammation by mitigation of cytokines (proteins that regulate inflammation) and reduce pain.
- Protection against cancer: Flavonoids may neutralize free-radicals and reduce cancer risk by arresting tumor growth. It may protect against certain cancers in the colon, prostate, womb, and breast.
What are the sources of polyphenols?
Polyphenols found in various plant-based food items such as:
- Red wine
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
- Herbs and spices such as cinnamon, oregano, and turmeric
- Whole grains
- Tea (green or black)
- Red onions
- Cereals and grains
- Vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, and asparagus
- Citrus fruits
- Berries (blackcurrant, blueberries, cherries strawberries, and raspberries)
What are the benefits of polyphenols?
Epidemiological studies have strongly suggested that long-term consumption of diets rich in polyphenols offer protection against several chronic diseases such as:
- Heart diseases
- Bone disease
- Inflammation of pancreas
- Digestive problems
- Lung damage
- Brain disorders
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Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant Polyphenols as Dietary Antioxidants in Human Health and Disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009;2(5):270-278. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/
Fraga CG, Croft KD, Kennedy DO, et al. The Effects of Polyphenols and Other Bioactives on Human Health. Food Funct. February 20, 2019;10(2):514-528. https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/fo/c8fo01997e#!divAbstract
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Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
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- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
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- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
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- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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4 Types of Foods That Are Highest in PolyphenolsPolyphenols are a type of plant compound with several health benefits when consumed regularly. It is a micronutrient obtained by consuming plant-based foods. Polyphenols are found in several foods, herbs, and spices. Foods that are highest in polyphenols include tea, dark chocolate, red wine, and berries.