I fielded a great question the other day asking me about the importance of polyphenols and why they are so important. Well simply stated, polyphenols are phytochemicals, found abundantly in natural plant food sources that have a tremendous amount of antioxidant properties.
There are roughly over 8,000 identified polyphenols found in items such as tea, wine, chocolates, fruits, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil, just to name a few, but as antioxidants, polyphenols play an important role in maintaining your overall health and wellness. Antioxidants in general help protect the cells in your body from the damage of free radicals, which can help with the rate at which you age. How can you add these amazing little gems to your daily living regimen? Lets take a closer look!
The Health Benefits Of Polyphenols:
There are four groups of polyphenols: phenolic acid, flavonoids, lignans and stilbenes and there are some crazy health benefits when it comes to consuming them on a regular basis. So what are they? Well, polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that give plants color and protect them from disease and other environmental threats and help them recover from injury. These phytochemicals are found in plant foods such as spices, fruits and vegetables, seeds as well as legumes.
When you consume polyphenols on a regular basis, you become healthier in a number of ways as they eliminate free radicals in your body and drastically improve your overall health. You may even see a boost in your energy, so lets take a look at some of the primary benefits including for us diabetics!
- Anti-Inflammatory: Most polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties. This is good news for anyone who suffers from arthritis or any other condition where inflammation is a problem.
- Heart Health: Consuming these types of foods can have great benefits on the cardiovascular system, and can actually help to improve heart health.
- Prevent Cancer: Many studies have shown that polyphenols contain anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic properties. This is great news for anyone who may be genetically predisposed to the “C” word.
- Prevent Heart Disease: Studies have shown that polyphenols found in cocoa have been shown to reduce cardiovascular stress through by reducing LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. Polyphenols also increase the dilation of blood vessels to promote circulation. Also, if your into red wine, there have been several studies that show the polyphenols in red wine can help to keep heart disease at bay.
- Anti-Aging: The science is still out, but many experts believe that polyphenols, even applied topically, can reduce the effects of aging as they cut down on free radicals floating around in the body.
- Protect Against Diabetes Related Side Effects: This one really peaked my interest for obvious reasons. As we are all aware by now, exposure to prolonged high blood sugars puts us at risk of developing some severe negative side effects such as retinopathy, neuropathy or even things such as sexual dysfunction just to name a few. Studies have show that polyphenols can help protect your body against some of these negative side effects. You can read about the study by clicking here.
Adding Polyphenols To Your Diet:
Even though there are supplements out there that claim have the best sourced polyphenols, I believe the best way is by incorporating certain foods into your diet. There’s a boat load of plant-based foods which contain polyphenols, so it’s easy to incorporate them into a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Here’s a list of some of the core foods with polyphenols:
- Fruits: Apples, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pomegranate, plums, pears, cantaloupe. Obviously as type 1s we will need to be careful here, but I absolutely love incorporating certain fruits into my diet. Like with all foods, just account for you insulin correctly.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, purple potatoes, celery, onion, parsley
- Beverages: Red wine, black tea, white tea, green tea
- Other Foods: Honey, bee pollen (I take this daily), chestnut, hazelnut, dark chocolate, olive oil, and argan oil
A good way of locating polyphenols is to remember that they’re contained in the rich-hued purple and red foods, such as summer fruits and berries. Red wine and black grape are fantastic sources of the polyphenol called resveratrol,which is one of the reasons why red wine is good for you (when drunk in moderation of course).
Also, if you didn’t already know, to get the best quality polyphenols, choose foods which are organic and non-GMO wherever possible.
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