Originally published October 2 2013
American Chemical Society embraces plant-based polyphenols as powerful nutrients for preventing disease, boosting longevity
by Rebecca Winters
(NaturalNews) It appears mainstream science might finally be catching up with what nutritionists have known for hundreds of years: antioxidant-rich plant-based polyphenols can build health and stave off disease.
Earlier this month, the American Chemical Society (ACS) held a symposium, "Polyphenolic Chemistry in Food Science: Flavor, Color, and Biofunctional Properties," as part of its 246th National Meeting & Exposition.
Polyphenols are found in over 450 foods, including many fruits and vegetables, spices, dried herbs, nuts and cocoa products. Many are considered superfoods. Cloves and peppermint top the list, with blueberries, oregano, dark chocolate, olives, pecans and flaxseed meal in the top 25.
Noting "a range of possible health benefits," ACS set out to cover a dozen polyphenol-related topics. Research presented at the symposium covered the polyphenol gamut. Scientists found that polyphenols are not just anti-inflammatory but could also help prevent cancer from forming; pterostilbene, (a polyphenol in blueberries and grapes) alleviated neurological conditions such as anxiety disorder; healthy gut flora is necessary to aid absorption and properly metabolize polyphenols to get the most health benefit; and black tea theaflavins even extended the overall lifespan of fruit flies.
Other topics covered included a polyphenol-rich cooking oil that was found to make fried foods more healthful and the fact that people who adore the pleasantly bitter flavor of coffee have polyphenols to thank.
The most noteworthy developments in polyphenol research presented came from the Department of Food Science at Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Research. Scientist Francisco Tomas-Berberan presented evidence that gut flora play a more vital role in polyphenols than previously thought. He found that less than 5% of these phytochemicals are readily digested in their original form and are nearly unaltered when they reach the colon. This is where a properly balanced, healthy gut microbiome is key, as gut flora and polyphenols share a two-way relationship. As a vast majority of a person's immune system is reliant on properly balanced gut microbiota, and polyphenols are significant in tackling auto-immune diseases, these two work together to protect the body from inflammation and illness.
Now that science is recognizing the true importance of antioxidant polyphenols in the diet, it could help the public make better informed diet choices that aid in preventing disease versus simply leaving people to become eventual patients at the mercy of the medical-industrial complex.
NaturalNews has long been a source for health-related polyphenol researchFor years, NaturalNews has been lauding the benefits of a polyphenol-rich diet. Let's recap some of the highlights.
Evidence has shown that EGCG from green tea is so powerful that it can actually increase a person's regulatory immune support T-cells, giving the body a boost in staving off disease. Green tea polyphenols have also been shown to block lung cancer, treat osteoporosis and protect the health of diabetics and people with pre-metabolic disorders.
Grape polyphenols in red wine protect from breast cancer, inhibiting estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cell proliferation. Red wine also reduced cancer cells in the liver and bones in various studies. While white grapes are relatively low in polyphenol content, over 200 polyphenols have been identified in red wine, including resveratrol, quercetin and catechin.
Polyphenols have also been found to strengthen neural networks, thereby preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Studies have shown these phytochemicals halting brain cell oxidative stress and reversing cognitive behavioral deficits.
Love chocolate? Chocolate polyphenols have been linked in studies to aiding heart health in numerous ways.
In short, one can't get too many polyphenols in the diet. A good place to start is by adding lots of healthy, organic fruits and vegetables to your plate. Stone (pitted) fruits like apricots and artichokes, berries, citrus fruits, beets and green veggies like broccoli and raw spinach all pack a powerful polyphenol punch. Many legumes, nuts and seeds are also high in polyphenols, including everything from dried beans to lentils, almonds to walnuts, and pumpkin to sunflower seeds. Herbs and spices, like cloves, oregano, sage and parsley, are a great polyphenol-rich addition to dishes. As mentioned, dark chocolate, with at least a 60% or higher cocoa content, is an excellent polyphenol source, as is green tea (although be sure to choose an organic source to limit the fluoride and pesticide content).
In addition to these foods, adding a high quality essential fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplement in concert with a good probiotic to one's daily regimen can help ensure that you are getting a sufficient amount of (and the most benefit from) polyphenols in your diet.
While the full benefits of these plant-based phytochemicals are still emerging, it's encouraging that science is beginning to embrace the potential of preventative, nutrition-based health solutions.
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