Polyphenols: health properties and in where to find them

What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are known as a series of natural compounds that essentially hail from plants and contain a high quantity of substances with high antioxidant power. Therefore, eating rich-polyphenols fruits and vegetables helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases.

According to the data regularly published by the World Health Organization, we know that cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death in the world.

Various scientific studies, such as that of Dr E. Valencia-Avilés of the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo, have been very clear. They have proven that diets rich in plant-based foods enriched in polyphenolic compounds help to improve health and reduce the onset of circulatory system diseases in both men and women.

What are their health properties?

The main property of polyphenols is to regulate the enzyme activity in cells involved in reducing oxide metabolism.

Its benefits are mainly due to its antioxidant properties that, indeed, prevent the oxidation in our bodies of substances that might have damaging effects on our health, such as low-density lipoproteins (also known as “bad” cholesterol.)

The benefits to humans of consuming polyphenolic substances can be summarised as follows:

  • They protect the inner walls of blood vessels in people with heart disease or diabetes. They prevent the formation of atheromatous plaques, which reduce the lumen of the blood vessels and which, if detached, can cause embolisms or thrombosis.
  • They have a highly anti-allergic function and an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
  • They also help to prevent degenerative diseases of the brain by allowing the blood vessels to remain unobstructed and, therefore, the blood to circulate normally, fulfilling all its functions.
  • Their consumption helps to prevent the onset of some types of cancer.
  • It has also been demonstrated that some types, such as those contained in chocolate and other cocoa derivatives, show some effects in the repair of gastric and liver damage in patients with alcohol addiction, in the stabilization of red blood cells, in the reduction of diabetic cataracts and other inflammatory processes.

In what foods are they found?

There are many types of polyphenols, and although they do not all have the same effects, they are all beneficial for our health. As mentioned above, polyphenols hail from plants, and we can find them in:

  • Berries such as blackberries and blueberries.
  • All types of grapes and therefore red wine. 
  • Apples. 
  • Green tea. 
  • Chocolate: black chocolate contains much more polyphenols than milk or white chocolate.
  • Virgin olive oil. 
  • Peanuts. 
  • Onions. 
  • Soya and all its derivatives.
  • Flax and all its derivatives.

These easy-to-find plant-based foods help prevent inflammatory or cardiovascular disorders and diseases.

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