Many people have heard the term antioxidants. Fewer people know what antioxidants do and why to take them. Even fewer actually take them. But even less have heard of the three types of antioxidants and take all three.
According to Dr. Mercola,
“Antioxidants can be divided into three major groups:
- Carotenoids […],
- Allyl sulfides, found in garlic and onions
- Polyphenols (also known as phenolics)”
People who are familiar with antioxidants tend to be most familiar with carotenoids. Jessie Szalay writes,
“Carotenoids are plant pigments responsible for bright red, yellow and orange hues in many fruits and vegetables. These pigments play an important role in plant health. People who eat foods containing carotenoids get protective health benefits as well.”
Many people are familiar that garlic is good for your health, but most do not know why (one reason is the allyl sulfide with it’s antioxidant properties). However, very few people know what polyphenols are.
So, what are polyphenols? Dr. Mercola notes,
“Polyphenols give fruits, berries, and vegetables their vibrant colors, and contribute to the bitterness, astringency, flavor, aroma, and oxidative stability of the food. In the plant, they protect against ultraviolet radiation, pathogens, oxidative damage, and harsh climatic conditions.”
In the human body, polyphenols help to fight cancer cells and free radicals; reduce inflammation; regulate blood sugar; and protect brain, skin, and cardiovascular health.
So, with these wonderful benefits, how do you increase your intake of polyphenols? The answer most people are familiar with is to drink red wine and eat dark chocolate (now you know why). However, to gain the most benefit, you should know that
“To optimize the benefits of these natural health boosting agents, it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods that are rich in polyphenols. High-quality seasonings, raw fruits, vegetables, and seeds are among the richest sources.
However, there’s also the issue of bioavailability, i.e. how well your body can absorb the nutrients contained in the food. One of the interesting facts about polyphenols is that they are fat soluble. This means that you should take them with fats in your diet or they won’t absorb as readily.“
Some of the foods with the highest levels of polyphenols include cloves, peppermint, spearmint, Mexican oregano, dark chocolate, raw cacao, rosemary, blueberries, thyme, hazelnuts, black olives, capers, and pecans.
With a list of foods this broad, eating more polyphenols should be a relatively easy adjustment, and doing so can not only make your taste buds happy but also improve your health.