What are polyphenols?
Polyphenols are water-soluble molecules found in all parts of a plant - from root to fruit! They form part of a plant's defence system in order to protect it from harsh environmental factors. Polyphenols are split into families, the most common being tannins, flavonoids and anthocyanins. The latter gives red fruits their colour.
The health benefits of polyphenols
Polyphenols are turbo-charged antioxidants that combat oxidative stress. They help with cardiovascular problems, by preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol - a process that can block arteries. They also prevent genetic mutations that produce cancer-causing tumours. What's more, polyphenols mimic hormones and can keep osteoporosis at bay.
Polyphenols as an anti ageing tool
Antioxidant-rich polyphenols prevent oxidative stress: by destroying free radicals caused by pollution, UV rays, poor diets and smoking, they slow down skin ageing and the appearance of wrinkles. Whatever our age, their antioxidants protect our skin cells against oxidative damage and slow down the ageing process.
Foods bursting with polyphenols include green tea, grapes, red fruits, apples, aubergines, onions, artichokes, cherries, cocoa powder and yellow chillies. However, mushrooms lead the way with 1g of polyphenols for every 100g! Currently there's no RDA for polyphenols. We usually get around 1g a day from our diet. Word of warning - eating too much polyphenol-rich foods can prevent our bodies from absorbing iron.