Polyphenols includes a variety of compounds that are widely distributed in many plant-based foods. When you drink a coffee or tea to wake up in the morning, the little bit of bitterness and astringency reveals the existence of polyphenols. When you decide to have some berries, dark grapes or a red delicious apple for breakfast, the red or blue is the color of polyphenols. When you snack on some nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc., you can taste polyphenols’ astringency again. And the vegetables and pulses in your meals, juices for replenishment, the hot cocoa in a winter day, and the glass of wine at dinner all add up to your polyphenols’ intake. Therefore, you actually consume polyphenols more often than you think each day.
Polyphenols have been under the spotlight for a long time due to their promising health benefits. They are well known as strong antioxidants, which means that when you eat food containing polyphenols, they can neutralize free radicals while passing through the gastrointestinal tract, thus protecting the tissues from getting damaged by free radicals. They can also change the bacterial species in the gut. The human body does not absorb polyphenols very efficiently, therefore, most of the polyphenols consumed will stay in the gut until they are finally excreted from the body. While they are in the gut, polyphenols can be metabolised by the bacteria there, but not all the bacteria can metabolize polyphenols, in fact, polyphenols can inhibit the growth of some bacterial species. The species that can metabolize polyphenols, which also happen to be the health-promoting species, will grow better than the ones that cannot. By scavenging free radicals and modulating gut bacteria, polyphenols improve the environment in the gastrointestinal tract, which has been proved to contribute to the overall health.
Evidence is also accumulating for the other physiological roles of polyphenols in the human body. Researchers have found lowered risk for chronic diseases in those who consume more polyphenols daily. Studies have shown that polyphenols have anti-atherosclerotic effect by lowering cholesterol in the blood and protecting arteries from fat deposition. Eating meals with high polyphenols resulted in lowered blood glucose levels in both healthy and diabetic population. Recent findings also support the neuro-protective and anti-aging effects of polyphenols.
So, now you are probably wondering ‘How to Boost Your Intake of Polyphenol Antioxidants’. There are 11 steps according to this link http://www.wikihow.com/Boost-Your-Intake-of-Polyphenol-Antioxidants.
Next time when you go grocery shopping, try to choose the foods with high polyphenol content, such as fruits, vegetables and juices (with red, blue or purple colors), red wine, tea, cocoa products, etc. (Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v64/n3s/fig_tab/ejcn2010221t1.html) There are also local berries grown in Alberta you can choose from: Saskatoon berries with the highest polyphenol content, followed by blueberries, then cranberries.
Also, using recipes from Pure Prairie Eating Plan, you can easily make healthy delicious meals with high polyphenol content. Try this adaptation of of our Fruit Smoothie recipe – an easy, cool, refreshing summer breakfast or snack:
Serves 2 – Serving Size: 2 cups (500 mL)
2 cups (500 mL) Saskatoons or mixed berries
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup (250 mL) 1 % milk
1Tbsp (15 mL) honey
1. Place fruit, yogurt, milk and honey in the blender. Blend to the desired consistency. Enjoy!
Nutritional analysis per serving: 308 kcal, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 59g carbohydrate, 4 grams fibre, 15 g protein.
For an extra healthy fibre boost, blend 2 tsp of flax or canola seed to your drink.