It might sound like something out of a chemistry lab, but polyphenols are a really important part of our diet. Many antioxidants are polyphenols so it’s worth knowing a little bit about them and what foods contain them.
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are a large class of chemical compounds found in plants. They are characterised by the presence of more than one phenol unit, the simplest form being phenol, which has long been used as an antiseptic.
They give fruits, berries and vegetables their vibrant colours and often add a certain amount of ‘bite’ to foods. This may give them a bitter or astringent flavour such as tannins in tea or red wine.
Why are they important for our diet?
Polyphenols are a powerful antioxidant that can counter the effects of ageing and provide some protection against diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
They can also provide a considerable energy boost on a daily basis, supporting regular blood sugar levels and promoting normal blood pressure.
What foods contain polyphenols?
Cloves, star anise, capers, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cinnamon.
Peppermint, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, lemon verbena, parsley, marjoram.
Cocoa, green tea, black tea, red wine.
Black chokeberry, black elderberry, low bush blueberry, plum, cherry, blackcurrant, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, prune, black grapes.
Flaxseed, celery seeds.
Chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts.
Black olives, green olives.
Globe artichokes, red chicory, green chicory, red onion, spinach, broccoli, curly endive.
Fruit other than berries
Apples, apple juice, pomegranate juice, peach, blood orange juice, lemon juice, apricot, quince.
Extra-virgin olive oil, rapeseed (canola) oil.
It’s a pretty extensive list but it should give you a guide as to what food types you can include in your daily diet when trying to incorporate polyphenols.
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