Polyphenol antioxidants are compounds found in plants that have been shown to provide numerous health benefits. These powerful antioxidants can help support the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals, which might lead to specific conditions for certain populations.*
But what exactly are polyphenols and how do they work?
Polyphenols are a type of phytochemical, which are naturally occurring compounds found in plants. These compounds are responsible for giving fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods their color, flavor, and smell. But, they also have many health-promoting properties.
There are several different types of polyphenols, including flavonoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, and lignans. Each type has its own unique set of health benefits, but they all work in a similar way to protect the body from damage.
When consumed, polyphenols are absorbed into the body and exert a number of beneficial effects. One of the most well-known benefits of polyphenols is their potential ability to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and DNA. This process is known as "antioxidant" activity.
Antioxidants, such as polyphenols, can help to counteract the effects of free radicals and may help protect against oxidative stress.* In addition to their antioxidant activity, polyphenols might also possess anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection.
How can you get more polyphenol antioxidants in your diet?
The best sources of polyphenols are plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Some of the richest sources of polyphenols include dark chocolate, berries, green tea, red wine, coffee, and extra virgin olive oil.
When consumed, polyphenols are absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up by cells throughout the body. Once inside the cells, they act as antioxidants, scavenging for harmful free radicals and potentially neutralizing them before they can cause damage.*
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage cells, DNA, and other important structures in the body. They are a natural byproduct of cellular metabolism, but they can also be produced by environmental factors such as pollution, ultraviolet radiation, and cigarette smoke.
Over time, the accumulation of free radical damage can lead to chronic conditions and might impact heart health and mental health.* By neutralizing free radicals, polyphenol antioxidants might help protect the body from this damage and promote overall health.*
But the benefits of polyphenol antioxidants go beyond just neutralizing free radicals. These compounds have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects, making them valuable for supporting healthy immune function*
As always, talk to your doctor before following a specific diet or taking any polyphenol antioxidants supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a polyphenol supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.