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 and body mass, waist circumference and they 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. They are characterised by the presence of more than one phenol unit and a phenol unit consists of a six membered aromatic hydrocarbon ring, bonded directly to a hydroxyl group.
Probably one of the most well-known polyphenols is in red wine, resveratrol. And 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.
There is a list of foods that have the highest polyphenols per serve and here are some of the most interesting highest rankings:
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 diverse biological properties, they 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