Polyphenols from food sources can be one of the biggest benefits to your health. Aside from tasting great, scientists categorize them as super foods for brain and cellular health! Let’s take a look some of the foods that contain the largest amounts of polyphenols, what they have to offer you in terms of benefits, how to include them in your diet, and more.
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are micronutrients that are found in many plants and known to be effective antioxidants and beneficial to human health.
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. In other words, they help fight off harmful free radicals and protect your immune system. An abundant body of research has proven that the antioxidative properties of polyphenols help prevent heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancers, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases. This is due to the fact that the antioxidant properties of polyphenols are able to neutralize free radicals that can damage cells tand lead to serious illness.
There are four main types of polyphenols; they are:
- Flavonoids – These make up 60% of all polyphenols. They include catechins, quercetin, flavonols, isoflavones, and flavones. The highest levels of these are typically found in dark chocolate, pears, dark yams, artichokes, soybeans, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, strawberries, blackberries, and red onions.
- Phenolic Acids – These account for 30% of polyphenols. They include stilbenes and lignans which can be found in legumes, seeds, and most fruits and vegetables.
- Polyphenolic Amides – Foods high in this type of polyphenol include capsaicinoids in cayenne chili peppers and avenanthramides in barley. · Other – These include curcumin in turmeric, resveratrol in 7 year old aged red wine, and lignans in flax seeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains, such as barley, amaranth, millet, brown rice, Einkorn, and kamut.
- Other – These include curcumin in turmeric, resveratrol in 7 year old aged red wine, and lignans in flax seeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains, such as barley, amaranth, millet, brown rice, Einkorn, and kamut.
Top 10 High Polyphenol Foods
Let’s now take a look at the 10 best polyphenol foods you can start eating more of and what they can do for your health.
1. Berries (1,700 mg per 100 g)
Berries are some of the best polyphenol-rich foods you can eat, which make them the perfect snack to munch on or an ideal addition to your cereal or fruit shake.
Which berries are the best to stock up on?
The ultimate winner is the black chokeberry, which contains an impressive 1,700 mg polyphenol per 100 grams. It is also very rich in the compound anthocyanins which are known for their antioxidant effects that help to prevent free radical damage, oxidation of cells, and membrane damage.
The first runner up is the black elderberry containing 1,359 mg polyphenols per 100 grams. While it’s a bit difficult to eat, it is a versatile ingredient you can add in syrups, teas, jellies, and even the famous elderberry pies.
The second runner-up is blackcurrant, which contains 758 mg polyphenols per 100 grams. Based on research, the polyphenols found in blackcurrant berries have the capacity to help individuals dealing with multiple sclerosis and obesity and its complications.
Other berries to look out for are the European version of the blueberry called bilberries, which contain 560 mg polyphenols per 100 grams. For the same serving of blackberries, strawberries, and red raspberries, you get 360 mg, 235 mg, and 215 mg polyphenols, respectively. That’s a good deal!
OVERNIGHT BERRY BARLEY RECIPE
Eating overnight berry barley for breakfast is a simple way to add berries in your polyphenol diet. Here’s how:
- Mix organic rolled barley, organic Greek yogurt, and use nut milk, such as cashew or almond, for extra polyphenols in a small jar.
- Add a palmful of berries and a few slices of banana in the jar.
- Mix it well.
- Put in the fridge and let it rest overnight.
2. Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate (3,448 mg per 100 g)
This is great news to all the chocolate lovers out there. You can munch on dark chocolate without any guilt due to its high polyphenol content. Just make sure its organic and doesn’t contain any artificial colorings, flavoring or preservatives.
This is because cocoa powder is ranked as the fourth highest polyphenol food with 3,448 mg per 100 grams of cocoa powder.
Of course, cocoa powder plays a huge role in the dark chocolate’s polyphenol content, which is 1,664 mg per 100 grams. Do take note, though, that not all dark chocolates are created equally.
When buying dark chocolate, look for one with 85% cocoa to really get the health benefits. If finding this is hard, you can opt for 70% cocoa instead.
3. Capers (645 mg per 100g)
You might be surprised to know that capers contain high levels of flavonoid polyphenols, too! This pea-sized condiment actually offers 645 mg polyphenols per 100 grams.
What are flavonoids? Flavonoids are what makes fruits and vegetables healthy. Among its many health benefits are brain protection and reduced risk of asthma, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
People who like capers enjoy their salty taste, which can be used to replace salt in some meals. Some people like eating them raw and adding them to a salad, or with some smoked wild caught salmon on whole wheat toast with some soft goat cheese and mustard.
Other ways to eat capers include mixing it with olive oil and Pecorino Romano cheese as a dip for organic whole grain pita, or you can eat them with salmon sashimi.
4. Black Olives (569 mg per 100g)
Next to capers are black olives. Not only are black olives rich in polyphenols, but they also boast of high monounsaturated fat content.
Black olives are helpful in reducing blood pressure and inflammation. You can eat them raw or use them as an ingredient in salads, pasta, pizzas, and tapenades.
Green olives have 346 mg per 100 g. Some people believe black and green olives are totally different from each other. The truth is, black olives are ripe while green olives are unripe.
5. Nuts (495 mg per 100 g)
Nuts are great for snacking because they’re high in protein and have high polyphenol content, too, whether they’re eaten raw or roasted.
If you like almonds, go ahead and grab a handful. Almonds contain 187 mg polyphenols per 100 g, not bad at all!
Then help yourself to Brazil nuts, black sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashews for additional polyphenols, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants.
6. Plums (377 mg per 100 g)
These small, purple, red, and black plum stone fruits are rich in polyphenols, anthocyanin flavonoids, and flavanols. Plums have the highest polyphenol content of any non-berry fruit.
Plums contain 377 mg polyphenols per 100 g. They taste sweet and contain a good amount of vitamin C as well for an extra immune boost.
So if you want to take a break from berries, feel free to grab a plum. They are abundantly available in grocery stores and farmers markets in the summertime during stone fruit season.
7. Dark Sweet Cherries (274 mg per 100 g)
Scientists have proven that adding sweet or tart cherries to your polyphenol diet can promote health in a myriad of ways. The antioxidant properties of cherry polyphenols decrease markers of inflammation, high blood pressure, and arthritis.
Eating a serving of cherries can be a good snack if you want to keep healthy. Here’s a simple recipe to add to your polyphenol diet:
- Cook a quarter cup of brown rice or barley meal with 1 cup almond milk
- Once it simmers, set it aside.
- Mix in Dark/Robust maple syrup, cinnamon, and Real Salt® in the mixture.
- Finally, fold in the cherries.
- Serve in a bowl for a healthy start to the day.
8. Cloves (15,188 mg per 100 g)
A clove is a dried flower bud from the Myrtaceae tree family. It is a popular flavoring spice for coffee, cakes, and mulled wine, and happens to contain the highest polyphenol content.
It contains a whopping 15,188 mg of polyphenol per 100 g of cloves. These small brown wooden stalk-looking spears may not appear appetizing at first but adding it to your meals guarantees you get your share of polyphenols.
The taste is a mix of bitter, warm, spicy, and has a tinge of sweetness. Use it sparingly though, as the taste can be overpowering.
Clove is very complimentary to other spices such as cinnamon, star anise (see #10), nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom and goes well in chai tea, certain baked goods, and savory dishes.
9. Dried Peppermint (11,960 mg per 100 g)
You might not believe this, but dried peppermint leaves contain 11,960 mg polyphenols per 100 g!
Peppermint is actually a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. You can enjoy it in many ways, like drinking peppermint tea.
If you can grow your own peppermint herb at home, which is best as it ensures you’re getting only the freshest peppermint leaves.
10. Star Anise (5,460 mg per 100 g)
A spice you don’t want to miss out on is star anise. It contains 5,460 mg per 100 g.
Star anise is actually the fruit of a small evergreen tree in the magnolia family. It’s picked unripened, then dried. It has a mild black licorice flavor and is one of the main components of authentic Chinese five spice.
You can use star anise to make a cup of tea or add it as a spice in meals like soups, broths, and stews. It’s great for savory recipes and always tastes good with meat.
Polyphenol Drinks to Pair with Your Food
1. Red Wine (101 mg per 100 ml)
Red wine is a known source of antioxidants, but that’s because it’s so high in polyphenols, as if you needed more reasons to drink a glass of red wine. It’s safe to drink up to 8 oz daily (in moderation!) as it’s good for the heart and can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, keep your memory sharp, and even promote weight loss by reducing body fat cells. Cheers to that!
2. Cranberry Juice (89 mg/100 ml) & Pomegranate Juice (102 mg/100 ml)
Both of these fruit juices provide all the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits contained in polyphenols. They are also a great pick-me-up during the mid-day and contain bile promoting agents that benefit digestive disorders.
A lot of the chronic diseases we suffer from today can be avoided with healthier lifestyle choices. Daily nutritional polyphenol consumption is a great way to get you on your path to living happy and well.
A healthy diet needs to be paired with regular exercise and the guidance of your health care provider. Ultimately, the key to feeling at your apex is to put your health at the top of your habits.
April 7, 2023
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