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.
Want to talk about a powerhouse super fruit, well, meet the goji berry! The goji berry, a sweet red fruit native to Asia, serves as both a botanical medicine and a food, and has a very pleasant taste – somewhere between a cherry and a cranberry. It has been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years, and has been studied extensively in modern times to substantiate its health benefits. With over 4g protein, 21 essential minerals, and 18 amino acids, as well as lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBP), the goji berry is a nutrient-dense superfood in a class all its own. I have a goji powder daily and here’s why!
Goji Berries And Eye Sight:
As diabetics we all understand how important it is to stay on top of our eye health. High blood sugars can wreak havoc of the small blood vessels that supply the eye. Taurine, a compound in goji berries, may be helpful in protecting eyes from diabetes related vision loss. It’s also rich in an antioxidant called zeaxanthin, which protects the retina by absorbing blue light.
Berries And Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are key elements in preventing damage of our cells by free radicals, or polluting molecules in our bodies. The total antioxidant power of goji berries, according to ORAC (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) tests used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is about 10 times that of blueberries; one of the highest levels in the food world.