June 2021 What are Polyphenols? Another Great Reason to Eat Fruits and Veggies
By Emily Nock
It’s not news that fruits and vegetables are a key part of a healthy diet. They are known for having fiber and vitamins, but there are also a number of other compounds that give these plants their nutritional power. Meet polyphenols, another reason to pack your menu with plants.
What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are a class of compounds found in many plant foods that includes flavonoids, phenolic acids, lignans, and stilbenes. There are more than 8,000 different types of polyphenols that have been identified so far. Some polyphenols that have gained popularity are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea and resveratrol in grapes and wine.
How can polyphenols benefit health?
Most polyphenols work as antioxidants in the body, meaning they can combat environmental harm such as UV damage and pollution. Click here to learn more about antioxidants. In addition to their antioxidant activity, polyphenols have many other health benefits. Some studies strongly suggest that diets rich in polyphenols may offer protection against development of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Which foods are high in polyphenols?
Many fruits and vegetables are high in polyphenols, but they are also found in beans, cereals, and soy. Check out these polyphenol-rich fruits and vegetables this season:
You can also enjoy the benefits of polyphenols in a cup of green or black tea, coffee, and even chocolate. Polyphenols are not listed on nutrition fact labels. Click here for a list of foods with higher amounts of polyphenols.
The time is ripe to get your dose of polyphenols this summer. While you’re picking out produce, sipping on iced green tea or enjoying a cold chocolate treat, think about all of the creative ways you can add more polyphenol-rich plants into your menu.
Our favorite Cacao Nib Balsamic Strawberry Salad contains cacao, spinach and strawberries—a plate full of polyphenols!
Get to know our author:
Nock is a second year Masters student in the Food Science and Human Nutrition program. She is particularly interested in the areas of intuitive eating, mindful eating, non-diet approach, and disordered eating. A fun fact about Nock is that she really likes to sing and dance! She played Jo in her high school’s production of Little Women the musical and has sung in school and community choirs.
For additional resources to healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!