What are Polyphenols/ Phytophenols?

What are Polyphenols/ Phytophenols?

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  • Polyphenols are micronutrients found in plants. Many supplements include them, but they are also easy to find in meals, including fruits, vegetables, teas, and spices.
  • Polyphenols come in a variety of forms, including fruits which include flavonoids like quercetin and catechins. Polyphenolic amides such as capsaicinoids found in chili peppers, are polyphenolic amides. Lignans and stilbenes, which are found in vegetables and whole grains, are phenolic acids. It is also found in red wine as resveratrol and berry ellagic acid. Polyphenols have been shown in studies to be potent antioxidants. They play this role by preventing or reversing cell damage caused by aging, the environment and our lifestyle. 

Why do we need polyphenols? 

There are no specific adverse effects linked to a deficiency of polyphenols. However, because of their ability to lower our risk of chronic diseases, they are considered "lifespan essentials. "According to research, people who consume more than 650 milligrams of polyphenols per day have a lower risk of death than those who consume less than 500 milligrams per day.

Polyphenols help protect our body by: 

1. Improving heart health

Polyphenols may protect against cardiovascular disease by improving endothelium (the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels), increasing protective HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), decreasing the harmful LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and promoting anti-platelet and anti-inflammatory activity.

Polyphenols have been demonstrated in studies to regulate blood pressure and maintain the health and flexibility of blood vessels, allowing for optimal circulation. 

They also help with chronic inflammation, which has been related to heart disease.

2. Lowering our diabetic risk

Polyphenols can lower blood sugar levels and aid in their regulation. 

They also cause our body to produce more insulin, a hormone that tells us how to use sugar efficiently. 

Low insulin resistance and regular blood sugar levels lower the chances of obesity and diabetes. 

Polyphenols can help people with type II diabetes by reducing carbohydrate digestion and absorption by interacting with the oral cavity and intestinal -amylase and glucosidase and the sodium dependent glucose transporter.

Polyphenols have been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and improve acute insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity in various animal models and a small number of human trials. Reduced glucose absorption in the intestine, inhibition of carbohydrate digestion, stimulation of insulin secretion, modulation of glucose release from the liver, activation of insulin receptors and glucose uptake in insulin-sensitive tissues, modulation of intracellular signaling pathways and gene expression are some of the mechanisms that could be involved.

3. Anti- cancerous property

Polyphenols have been shown in studies to inhibit tumor development and kill active cancer cells. These polyphenols have anticancer properties through various processes, including cancer cell elimination via signaling pathway change, cell cycle suppression, and apoptosis induction. Polyphenols also play a role in tumor cell proliferation by regulating the activity of enzymes involved in cell proliferation. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols may reduce the cancer risk.

4. Increasing immunity

Polyphenols have been shown in studies to help our immune system battle infection and disease. 

Polyphenols also encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in our stomach while inhibiting the formation of dangerous bacteria.

This effect aids digestion, but a healthy bacterial balance is also necessary for a robust immune system.

Polyphenols boost immunity to invading infections through a variety of mechanisms.

 Polyphenol receptors, which recognize and allow cellular uptake of polyphenols, then activate signaling pathways to induce immune responses, are expressed in various immune cells. 

Herbs,  Spices that contains polyphenols: 

Berries: Versatile in any diet due to their low-calorie content and high vitamin C, fiber, and polyphenol content. Chokeberries and elderberries are the most polyphenol- rich fruits, with 1123 mg  and 870 mg of polyphenols per half-cup meal, respectively.

EX: Blueberries- 535mg

       Blackcurrant- 485mg

       Blackberries, Raspberries, and strawberries-160mg 

The most common polyphenols found in herbs and spices are the flavone and flavonol subgroups of phenolic acids and flavonoids. Various herbs, such as parsley, Chinese cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric, have anti-inflammatory properties. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are common nutrients found in dried herbs and spices.

Ex: Cloves- 542mg

Peppermint- 427mg

Star Anise- 195mg

Cocoa powder: A potent polyphenol source with 516 milligrams per tablespoon. However, heating and processing cocoa powder to make chocolate might diminish its concentration. Dark chocolate contains 249 mg per tablespoon, while milk chocolate contains only 35 mg.

Nuts: Polyphenols are found in most nuts, but chestnuts have the most, with 347 mg per ounce (tree nuts). For a one-ounce serving, hazelnuts and pecans contain 140 mg, whereas almonds contain 53 mg.

Flax seeds: There is 229 mg/tablespoon of polyphenols. Flaxseeds can be added to cereal, sandwiches, and salads and baked into cookies and bread.

Vegetables: According to experts, we should consume 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Polyphenols are found in most veggies, so having enough in our diet can help us reap the health benefits of these antioxidants. 

Ex: Artichoke: 260mg

       Red onion: 168mg

       Spinach: 40mg

Olives: Vitamin E, fatty acids, and polyphenols are abundant in olives. A serving of green olives has 70 mg of polyphenols, while a serving of black olives contains 113 mg.

Coffee and Tea: Polyphenols are found in roughly 35 mg/20 gms of coffee. Teas including black, green, and ginger are consumed in lower quantities, but a cup can still provide some polyphenols to our diet.

Bhagyashree Hatti
M. Tech (Food Technology)
Quality Assurance and 

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