Wellness

Polyphenols: Your Nutritional Superhero

blueberries

Sometimes understanding the nitty gritty health benefits of fruits and veggies can be a major motivator for front loading more plants in your diet. Among other synergistic compounds, polyphenols are the standout powerhouse behind a plant-based diet. 


What Are Polyphenols?

You may have heard more about this super-nutrient during the pandemic, as studies were indicating the role polyphenols play in immune health.1 But what exactly are polyphenols, and why should you care? First, the basics: polyphenols are naturally occurring micronutrients found in fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. There are over 8,000 types of polyphenols, each with their own unique benefits.2 

Here are a couple of examples of polyphenols you may be familiar with (or at least the plants they’re found in):

  • Flavonoids: Concentrated in onions and herbal tea–among many other plant-based sources—flavonoids like myricetin and catechins have been proven to help support gut health.3 

  • Phenolic acids: Support your cells with apples, berries, mangoes and fruits and veggies high in these free-radical fighting compounds.4 


Polyphenols comprise the bulk of your antioxidant intake, and play a vital role in helping defend against cell damage that occurs due to aging, pollution, and stress levels. Which brings us to our next point…


Your Body on Polyphenols

When it comes to surviving versus thriving, polyphenols are the factor that can take your health goals to the next level. Simply look to the Blue Zones around the world, from the Mediterranean to South America, and you can quickly extrapolate that there’s something valuable here that’s worth uncovering. While your body won’t completely shut down without a high daily dose of polyphenols, you may miss out on longevity-enhancing benefits without making a conscious effort to include this micronutrient in your diet. 

In fact, studies show that people who enjoy polyphenolic-rich diets—which is considered a consumption of more than 650 milligrams of polyphenols per day—have improved longevity than those who get less than 500 milligrams per day.

That’s only the beginning of polyphenolic benefits. When you revolutionize your wellness routine with a diet high in plants, you can expect to support:

  1. Improved cardiovascular health. Studies show that polyphenols may be able to help manage blood pressure levels and help prevent vascular constriction.5 

  2. Stabilized blood sugar levels. Polyphenols can help modulate your body’s release of the hormone insulin, which directs how your body processes sugar.6

  3. A more intelligent immune system. Polyphenols can act like a roadmap for your immune system by promoting improved gut health and stronger communication between your cells and gut microbiota.7

How to Up Your Intake 

Increasing your daily servings of fruits and veggies doesn’t need to be a drag. Start with your Viome food recommendations to uncover everything from what’s a “superfood” to an “avoid” food for your unique gut microbiome. Haven’t taken a Viome test yet? Compare our testing kits and see what plan is right for your health goals. 


Pro tip: Cross-analyze the list of polyphenolic-rich foods below with your Viome food recommendations for the ultimate guide to a plant-powered lifestyle. 


Get Started with These Superfoods


Berries: Toss a handful of blueberries or blackberries on your morning oatmeal and reap the benefits of 535 milligrams of polyphenols per half-cup serving and 160 milligrams per serving, respectively. 


Herbal tea: Herbal tea can be a potent source of flavonols and phenolic acids. Even one cup can bring a much needed boost to your polyphenol intake. 


Nuts: From pecans to almonds, nuts are a superfood in and of themselves that pack a polyphenolic punch along with fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids. 


Spinach: Using spinach as the greens in your next salad could add about 100 milligrams of polyphenols per cup to your meal. 


This is only the tip of the iceberg. As we mentioned above, we encourage you to do some additional digging and find the polyphenolic-rich foods that are most compatible with your body. Your Viome test results are always a great place to start.



References:

1 Ding, S., Jiang, H., & Fang, J. (2018, April 12). Journal of immunology research. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5925142/#:~:text=Polyphenols%20promote%20immunity%20to%20foreign,pathways%20to%20initiate%20immune%20responses. 

2 Contributors, W. M. D. E. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-polyphenols

3 Shabbir, U., Rubab, M., Daliri, E. B.-M., Chelliah, R., Javed, A., & Oh, D.-H. (2021, January 12).Nutrients. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7828240/ 

4 Kumar, N., & Goel, N. (2019, August 20). Biotechnology reports (Amsterdam, Netherlands). Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6734135/#:~:text=Phenolic%20acids%2C%20readily%20absorbed%20through,inflammation%20capacity%20of%20human%20beings.

5 Khurana, S., Venkataraman, K., Hollingsworth, A., Piche, M., & Tai, T. C. (2013, September 26). Nutrients. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820045/

6 Aryaeian, N., Sedehi, S. K., & Arablou, T. (2017, December 26). Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6014790/

7 Zheng, D., Liwinski, T., & Elinav, E. (2020, May 20). Nature News. Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41422-020-0332-7