Of all the different antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in our diet, polyphenols are the most abundant ones. Berries, olives, vegetables, tea, and spices are natural sources of polyphenols for us. It is important to understand polyphenols – their benefits and sources for consumption.  Polyphenols help reduce harmful free radicals found in the body that can lead to cancer and disease – anti-oxidants. And they can reduce chronic inflammation in the arteries, joints, liver, and brain – anti-inflammatories.  Polyphenol consumption is believed to help protect against heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. This is an important discovery, because chronic inflammation is the cause for many illnesses. Some of the most popular food sources containing polyphenols include olive oil, berries, dark chocolate, red wine, and tea. 

More than 8,000 different types of polyphenols have been discovered and named. Collectively, these polyphenols are referred to as phytochemicals. The benefits of polyphenols vary based on the type of polyphenol. So, it is important to know which type of polyphenols you are taking for the benefit as well as the source of them. Polyphenols are in one of four primary groups.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids make up roughly 60% of all polyphenols. The most consumed flavonoids are flavanols, catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, and kaempferol. Foods such as apples, dark chocolate, red cabbage, and onions are generally high in flavonoids.

Flavonoids

Phenolic Acids

Phenolic acids make up roughly 30% of all polyphenols. The most common type of phenolic acid is caffeic acid. Stilbenes and lignans are two other types. Fruits – including olives, olive oil, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds are generally the source for these polyphenols.

Polyphenolic Amides

Polyphenolic amides is a smaller group of polyphenols that includes capsaicinoids and avenanthramides. Capsaicinoids are abundant in chili peppers and avenanthramides are readily found in oats.

Other Polyphenols

A few other polyphenols also exist. For instance, resveratrol  originates in red wine and berries have ellagic acid. 

High Polyphenol Foods

Fruits and vegetables are generally the highest polyphenol-rich foods. The amount and variety of polyphenols found in a particular food can vary based on how and where the food is grown, how it is harvested and transported, how ripe the food is, and how the food is cooked.

  • Fruits: Some of the highest sources of polyphenols come from olives, apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, plums, cranberries, and apricots. 
  • Vegetables: Spinach, onions, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, shallots, and carrots generally contain the highest polyphenols. 
  • Whole grains: Whole grains like rye, oat flour, and whole-grain wheat are great sources of polyphenols. 
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes: When consuming nuts, seeds, and legumes, look to chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, roasted soybeans, black beans, and white beans for high levels of polyphenol. 
  • Beverages: Additionally, beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine generally carry significant levels of polyphenols. 
  • Fats and oils: There are high polyphenols in olive oil and sesame seed oil, and dark chocolate. 
  • Spices: The spices and seasonings with the highest levels of polyphenols are cocoa powder, capers, oregano, rosemary, soy sauce, saffron, cloves, peppermint, celery seed, sage, star anise, thyme, basil, cumin, cinnamon, and curry powder.

Consumption of olive oil has become a popular way of getting polyphenols into the diet, and a polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil in your everyday cooking is one way of doing so. Consuming polyphenol supplements is another popular way of boosting polyphenol intake. Active ingredients in polyphenols like TrePhenol® such as hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol create a supercharged polyphenol experience.*  

Are Polyphenols Good for You?

Scientists refer to polyphenols as “reducing agents”. They can either reduce the inflammation you have or the oxidation that is occurring in your body. Polyphenols and other reducing agents such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants, can protect the body’s cells and tissue against oxidative stress and cell damage. In turn, the body is better able to protect itself against chronic inflammation, immune disorders, cancers, and coronary heart disease.1*

Polyphenols and Inflammation

Certain polyphenols have proven to be especially effective when it comes to reducing inflammation within the body. A randomized human clinical trial found that HDL (high density lipids – the “good cholesterol”) increased with how much hydroxytyrosol and olive polyphenols you consume.  This is good news! 2  Another pilot study using our Pure Vida product found that cRP markers for inflammation were dramatically reduced, and that breast cancer patients were feeling far less pain.3* 

Polyphenols and Heart Disease

The same randomized heart trial for olive fruit polyphenols and heart disease found that higher polyphenols produced less hydroxy fatty acids and other oxidative biomarkers, which are major risk factors for cardiovascular mortality and Alzheimer’s disease1. Another study indicated that the arteries actually improved in their elasticity and health from elevated levels of hydroxytyrosol found in olive fruit polyphenols and olive oil.  Olive oil polyphenols seem to be able to increase good cholesterol in the body while decreasing bad cholesterol.

Polyphenols and Heart Disease

Polyphenols and Obesity

Research suggests that polyphenols may also play a part in the body’s regulation of body weight. A recent study examined the relation of flavonoids to a person’s body mass index and waist circumference. They discovered that the lower a person’s body mass index and waist circumference, the higher their flavonoid intake levels.

Polyphenols and Type 2 Diabetes

Research has shown that polyphenols may even be able to help control and lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Polyphenols can help increase a body’s insulin sensitivity and slow down the rate at which a body absorbs and digests glucose.

Specifically, flavanols are the polyphenol type commonly linked to being able to lower a person’s risk for Type 2 diabetes. Flavanols can help decrease insulin resistance. 

If you would like more information about polyphenols or hydroxytyrosol, and want to find out if there’s a product that is right for you, get in touch with us at Oliventures Inc.  We have developed pure and high-quality products that can help your body fight inflammation.*

References:

1 “Anti-inflammatory Activity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols: Which Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases?” Pubmed article here.

2. “The Effect of Polyphenols in Olive Oil on Heart Disease Risk Factors
A Randomized Trial” Pubmed Article here.

3. “A combination of hydroxytyrosol, omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin improves pain and inflammation among early stage breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant hormonal therapy: results of a pilot study”  PubMed Article Here.

* Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.