Polyphenols are the most abundant bioactive compounds in the diet, found mainly in foods of plant origin, such as vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes.
These compounds have beneficial effects on the health of the body such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor action, which has as a consequence the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, protection against premature aging, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
The average intake of foods rich in polyphenols is usually 10 times greater than that of vitamin C and 100 times greater than that of vitamin E, nutrients that also have antioxidant activity.
However, research to identify the antioxidant activity and disease-preventing effects of polyphenols began to be performed only in 1995, due to the complexity of their chemical structure, which made the discoveries about the importance of these compounds for health delay to be disclosed.
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols have a common chemical structure derived from benzene attached to a hydrophilic group. Based on the number of polyphenolic rings and the structural components that join these rings together, these substances are classified into four main families, which also have differences in terms of their function: phenolic acids, flavonoids, lignans, and stilbenes.
The change in the eating pattern, together with the greater supply of low-cost industrialized foods, favors an increase in the consumption of high-calorie foods with low nutritional density. Hence the importance of stimulating the consumption of natural or minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Below you can learn what are the functions and benefits of each class of polyphenols and how to use foods rich in these bioactive compounds every day.
Types of polyphenols, functions and health benefits
There are thousands of phenolic compounds identified by researchers. Based on the chemical structure and function of polyphenols, they can be classified into various types and subtypes. See below the role of different phenolic compounds for health:
These are classified into several subclasses: flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanides, and proanthocyanides. They are the most common polyphenols and can be present in many foods, such as:
· Onions, which contain a high content of flavonol quercithin;
· Broccoli, which has high concentrations of myricetin;
· The purple-red fruits and wild fruits such as grapes, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and our açaí, rich in anthocyanidins;
· Citrus fruits such as orange and mandarin, which have flavones in their composition;
· The apple, source of the flavonoid floridzina;
· Cocoa, chocolate or green tea, which contain high concentrations of catechins and epicatechins.
The flavonoids have antioxidant action, reduce inflammation and boxes inhibit cell proliferation rampant, preventing the development of tumor cells.
Among the main phenolic acids is chlorogenic acid, present in high concentrations in coffee, but it can also be found in citrus fruits, apple, pear, wild fruits, artichoke and eggplant.
Research carried out in recent decades has shown that chlorogenic acid can lower blood glucose levels, induce the multiplication and mobility of macrophages, cells responsible for eliminating foreign bodies from the body, which improves immunity, and acts to protect the genetic code against cell mutations that can cause cancer.
Lignans play a prominent role in their anti-inflammatory function and in the prevention of cancer, since in addition to the antioxidant function, they also act as a phytoestrogen, binding to estrogen receptors and inhibiting their accumulation, which can cause the development of various tumors, especially breast and ovarian cancer.
Flaxseed is the food with the highest lignan content, followed by gergelín and chickpeas.
Stilbenes are also part of an important class of polyphenols, most notably resveratrol.
Mainly present in purple grape peels, resveratrol has the ability to increase the production of HDL, the good cholesterol, and reduce the bad cholesterol, LDL, thus preventing cardiovascular disease.
In addition, it improves the flexibility of blood vessels, which can help reduce blood pressure, and has antioxidant and anticancer action. In addition to consuming the grape itself, it is possible to obtain the benefits of resveratrol from the consumption of red wine and whole grape juice.
Benefits of polyphenols
In general, most polyphenols have some actions in common, such as antioxidant activity and reduction of LDL oxidation, preventing atherosclerosis and limiting the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
Other studies indicate the anticancer effect of phenolic compounds in human cells, especially in the tissues of the oral cavity, stomach, duodenum and colon, lungs, mammary glands and skin.
Anti-diabetic effects have also been reported by inhibiting glucose in the gut and peripheral tissues, which prevents insulin spikes in the blood and reduces fat storage helping those who want to lose weight.
On the other hand, anti-aging and neuroprotective effects have also been observed, since the antioxidant activity of polyphenols is responsible for stopping the accumulation of free radicals that cause early aging and the degeneration of brain cells, which lead to diseases such as evil. Alzheimer's.
How to use foods rich in polyphenols daily?
A healthy diet that contains the most diverse types of polyphenols requires the adoption of diets rich in fruits, vegetables and greens, cereals and legumes.
In addition, including beverages that use purple grapes such as whole grape juice and red wine, green tea, and foods such as cocoa and chocolate in your eating routine can help ensure the presence of phenolic compounds in the diet and take advantage of the benefits what these substances do for health.
The Mediterranean diet, for example, practiced by the inhabitants of the countries bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, is characterized by the abundance in the consumption of fruits, vegetables and vegetables, cereals, legumes and oil seeds, natural herbs and spices, fish, olive oil and red wine.
From these foods it can be guaranteed that the diet is rich in polyphenols and other substances with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects. Epidemiological studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet influences disease prevention, increased well-being and longevity.
Skin tags are very common. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, scientists guess that almost half of all adults experience them. Luckily, they’re also mostly painless. But how do you get rid of skin tags without calling your doc? These noncancerous growths can appear anywhere on your body. But they’re fondest of hanging out in places where your skin folds (think armpits, groin, thighs, and eyelids).