You know back in school, chemistry was never my favorite (I partially blame my teacher for it), and I never could really understand the need of learning all that or understanding chemical compositions, I was a regular kid, not aspiring to be a scientist, heck I didn’t even wanted science in mainstream. Now years later, I realize what a big dud I was. If I knew back then that my future would require learning and sharing knowledge of chemical compositions and related stuff, I would have paid more attention. Alas, that can’t be changed. So, for your sake and mine, I will try to simply explain the chemical composition that is a polyphenol.
Polyphenols are a chemical/nutrient found in plants. It naturally occurs in many vegetables and fruits and is really a big part of what we call Phytonutrients. These ring-like structures (see chemical composition) are easily available in a variety of foods and from them, they have been synthesized into supplements as well. Before we go for it, let’s understand the crucial part, what’s in it for me – well a lot of health benefits. Polyphenols work as an antioxidant in our bodies. Here’s a compilation of its benefits:
- Antioxidants are famous for fighting free radicals in the body and delaying the aging of cells and repairing cell damage.
- Some studies suggest that they can also help in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and can improve insulin regulation.
- Antioxidants and in effect polyphenols can also reduce inflammation in the body and hence impact having a lower risk of various chronic conditions like cancer, and heart woes.
- They are also good for heart health and brain health.
A little disclaimer here, these are not yet proven benefits but inferences, and more studies and researches are required for more concrete conclusions. Now that you are aware of the big deal about them, let’s take a look at its types and associated plants. They are categorized based on their chemical structure and associated molecules into:
- Phenolic Acids
Some foods will contain more than 1 type of polyphenol, like red wine it has both stilbenes and flavonoids. The other famous polyphenol food items are Tea, Cocoa powder, Berries (raspberry, cranberry, blueberry, strawberry, etc), cloves, star anise, cumin, cinnamon, olives, and olive oil, asparagus, apricots, apples, plums, black beans, walnuts, pecan, almonds, red onion, chicory, soy tempeh. It’s an endless list. But when you talk about chemicals, I do remember they aren’t to be messed with or else there can be repercussions. It’s the same with polyphenols, in excess mostly in supplement form they can create a hormonal imbalance, tumors or in some cases kidney damage. Certain polyphenols may react with certain medications, so it’s best to discuss with your doctor before adding them. My intention here is not to put you off, and they are mostly safe for everyone to consume, but it’s always important to read the cautionary take too.
The same chemical will react differently to every other chemical, in the end, it all depends upon your chemistry, so think like a proton and stay positive.