Polyphenols are a set of chemicals found in fruits and vegetables that have excellent antioxidant properties. These substances have been identified in more than 8000 foods, among which we can highlight chocolates, wines, and vegetables. These are divided into Flavonoids, Styrene, Lignans and Phenolic Acids; which in turn, are subdivided according to the number of phenol rings they contain and are recognized as foods rich in polyphenol.
Antioxidants are responsible for protecting the cells from free radicals (enough reactive atoms that steal electrons from DNA, proteins and cell membranes) and thus combat serious diseases and the general aging of tissues caused by these atoms if are not controlled in time.
It is easy to identify foods that contain polyphenol since they have higher levels of a substance located in its outer layers that provide its vibrant colors. They can also be identified by their bitterness, aroma, oxidative stability and taste.
Importance of polyphenol in humans
The positive impact of these substances on the body is very varied, some are:
-They fight cancer cells and the growth of angiogenesis.
-Protects the skin from UV rays.
-They contribute to brain health.
-Helps prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
-They have a prebiotic effect that helps to improve the intestinal flora.
-It reduces the risk of suffering from osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.
-Help keep blood pressure stable.
In 2010 an article published by the journal “Nutrients” explains that most of the diseases mentioned above are related to the oxidative stress of reactive species of oxygen and nitrogen.
The polyphenol help more antioxidant than vitamin C activity. They can neutralize free radicals. Most of the evidence that has been gained about the benefits of polyphenols is from in vitro studies, but these substances may work best in the human body.
Contribute to improving heart and colon cancer
Heart: according to strong research, an increased intake of flavonoids found mostly in fruits with blue, red or dark purple tones; and flavanones ( a subdivision of flavonoids) in citrus fruits, reduce the risk of strokes and cerebrovascular accidents in men.
Intake of six different types of flavonoids (flavonols, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, flavones, flavanones, and flavan-3-cells) significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, the metabolism of this type of polyphenols improves the bioactivity of endothelial cells responsible for covering the blood vessels.
They help decrease excess platelets in the blood, which is the potential cause of heart attacks. They prevent vascular endothelial growth causing complications in the arteries.
Colon cancer: An experiment with pigs tested the effectiveness of purpura to reduce the level of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory protein that promotes colon cancer. The experiment was carried out as follows:
-The population (pigs) was divided into three groups, providing for thirteen weeks a different diet for each.
-The first group was given a high-calorie diet.
-In the second group a high-calorie diet along with boiled or raw purple potatoes rich in phenolic acids.
-The last group was the so-called control group, who were given a standard diet.
The results: comparing the first and second groups, it was concluded that while the high-calorie diet increased the level of IL-6, that supplemented with purple potatoes reduced the IL-6 index to six times less compared to control group.
This discovery is a benefit for patients who are diagnosed with this type of cancer because anti-IL-6 drugs have a very high cost. Other studies confirm the benefits of polyphenols in other cancers and not just in the aforementioned.
Making polyphenol-rich foods part of your daily diet is your new challenge
Foods with polyphenol protect your health by fighting against free radicals, preventing the cells in our body from functioning properly, giving way to the diseases mentioned above.
However, it is not good to remove all free radicals from the body, as they serve as signaling molecules that attack foreign invaders and pathogenic bacteria of the immune system. Therefore, your diet should be rich in organic fruits, vegetables, and nuts, so that you can be among that small and fine line that defines having excess or little free radicals.
Isolated antioxidants (pharmacological supplements) do not give our body the antioxidants it needs at the time, so it is better to have a varied whole food diet. So that you can enjoy the benefits of polyphenols, you must ingest ALL fruit because in juice it is too high in fructose causing insulin resistance. The most named foods you can include in your diet are:
-Dark Chocolate: possesses antioxidants that help cardiovascular health, skin and emotional states.
-Grapes and Red Wine: help control cholesterol and blood pressure.
-Broccoli: is considered as one of the most nutritious vegetables you can include in your diet because it contains more vitamin C than an orange and has more calcium than a glass of milk.
-Tomato contains in high amounts an antioxidant called lycopene.
-Nuts: their antioxidants contribute to the control of cellular oxidative stress.
-Carrots: it has antioxidants that help produce vitamin A.
Another polyphenol-rich food is blackberry, also considered a complete bistate fruit because it contains many nutrients, such as vitamin A, complex B, C, E and K, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
It contains 25% soluble fiber and 75% insoluble which helps to a better digestion promoting the intestinal movement. Because of its high resveratrol content, it helps keep blood vessels healthy.
It is great for controlling blood sugar as it contains a special antioxidant called DNJ that prohibits an enzyme in the intestine responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into sugar, being beneficial for the control of diabetes; and ultimately can help prevent fat buildup around the liver.