Properties and Benefits of Polyphenols: Simply put, polyphenols are plant compounds with a multitude of health benefits. Polyphenols are basically antioxidant nutrients and can be found in great amounts in the peel or skin of fruits and vegetables or in the thin layer between the pulp and the skin.
Although most of them occur naturally in fruits, vegetables and seeds, they can also be extracted and added to dietary supplements or cosmetic products. The richest sources of polyphenols are dark blue, purple or black fruits such as grapes, plums, blueberries, blackberries and so on.
Polyphenols are rich in antioxidants and, according to preliminary research, they are highly protective of the cardiovascular system in particular. For example, red grape juice and even high-quality wines are known to protect our veins and arteries from damage. Also, foods rich in polyphenols are believed to block the absorption of cholesterol which can deposit on artery walls and cause their obstruction.
According to the scientific community, polyphenols may also help keep us looking young and beautiful and ward off chronic disease as a result of their potent antioxidant activity. The anti-aging properties of these compounds are now under intense scrutiny.
Most health care products or supplements you see in drugstores or health food stores contain either dark grape extract or blueberries or other blue, purple or black-colored fruit extract. Producers’s health claims of these supplements are based on various principles of polyphenol activity, including their powerful antioxidant properties.
According to researchers, the damage caused by reactive oxygen molecules (free radicals) at cell level, also known as oxidative stress, triggers inflammation and the installation of chronic disease. Also, it would appear that our central nervous system is particularly vulnerable to the effects of oxidative stress, although ample studies suggest that there is considerable strain on our cardiovascular and immune systems as well.
Polyphenols and other similar powerful antioxidant substances found in fruits and vegetables appear to efficiently reduce free radical damage at cell level. Basically, what polyphenols do is to fix broken cells and make them healthier; this leads to healthy tissues and organs, which manage to perform vital survival functions and ensure an overall healthy body (and mind). In short, antioxidant polyphenols are our greatest allies.
Although red wine contains a powerful polyphenol called resveratrol, drinking alcohol often cause more health problems than health benefits. You can enjoy the same wonderful benefits by eating dark-red or purple grapes regularly, skin, pulp and seeds. In order not to get into a rut, you can add blueberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries and other dark-colored fruit to your list. Just remember to clean them thoroughly.
Herbal infusions, tinctures, olive oil, spices and herbs, even most vegetables are great sources of polyphenols as well. Usually, all dark-colored fruits and veggies abund in antioxidant compounds with great beneficial effects on human health. The trick is to add variety to your diet so as to ensure you get all sorts of polyphenols and enjoy their benefits.