Polywhat? What and where are polyphenols?

I have just read a study that has discovered an inverse correlation between polyphenol levels and body weight and obesity in a 5 year follow up. This was measured through the level of polyphenols in urine versus body mass and waist circumference. The researchers concluded that a greater polyphenol intake may contribute to reducing body weight. So what are polyphenols and how do we get more of them?

Polyphenols are a class of chemical compounds found in plants.

One of the most well-known polyphenols is in red wine - resveratrol. Other polyphenols are generally the thing that provide a bite in foods, think capsaicin in chilli and paprika, thymol in thyme, cinnamic acid in cinnamon and rosmarinic acid found in rosemary, thyme, oregano and peppermint. In plants, it is the polyphenols that help defend against attack by insects and also give plants their colours.

Here is a list of our favourite foods that have the highest polyphenols per serve:

Strawberry                  166g    390mg polyphenols   

Pure apple juice          248g    168mg polyphenols

Apple                           110g    149mg polyphenols

Cacao Powder             3g        103mg polyphenols

Spinach                       59g      70mg polyphenols

Black beans                 35g      52mg polyphenols

Potato                         128g    36mg polyphenols

Pear                             138g    23mg polyphenols

Carrot                          54g      7.6mg polyphenols


In the human body, polyphenols have a diverse range of biological properties, that can:

  • Fight cancer cells
  • Fight free radicals and reduce the appearance of ageing
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Protect skin against ultraviolet radiation
  • Promote brain health and protect against dementia
  • Support normal blood sugar levels


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