Column: Polyphenols- Rich Superfoods

By Julia Chiappetta

What are polyphenols? Simply put, polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in fruits, vegetables, spices, nuts and other plants and food sources.  he best source of polyphenols is from foods, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Polyphenols play an important role in maintaining health and wellness because antioxidants help protect the cells in our bodies from free radicals. If you have little protection from free radicals, you allow them an open door to gain power and wreak havoc on your cells causing them to underperform and put your body at risk for disease. Polyphenols are antioxidants and are found abundantly in natural plant food sources with antioxidant properties. There are over 8,000 identified polyphenols found in foods such as tea, wine, chocolates, fruits, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil, to name a few.

With summer around the corner, please find below some of the polyphenol-rick foods to load into your shopping bags/baskets at the local Farmer’s Markets. Remember – Organic is essential, otherwise you are consuming calories & chemicals vs. calories & nutrients.

Olives (Black & Green)
Onion (Red & Yellow)
Red lettuce
Spinach Shallot
Black Currants
Grape (Concord)
Herbs & Seasonings:
Celery Seed
Common Sage
Lemon Verbena
Mexican Oregano
Sweet Basil

Other notables:
Dark Cacao
Green Tea
Hazel Nuts
Red Wine

Polyphenols have been shown to improve a variety of health issues including: Reducing Inflammation and Blood Pressure, Lowering Cholesterol, Preventing Platelet Clumping, & Improving Artery Function. “In recent studies, healthier arteries were found in those who ate raw vegetables and avoided high-fat dairy products. Consumption of fresh fruit and avoidance of high-fat dairy products was also associated with less inflammation in the same subjects.”  There are many studies on this topic from which you may glean more information.  Here are just a few that you might find of interest:

Just like there are many paths to wellness, there is no doubt in my mind that food acts as information & natural medicine for our bodies. Think about it…your dinner tonight might be talking to you and your fork has the power to determine the outcome as to how you will feel. Ha-Ha. Polyphenol-rich foods are like a pharmacy that enhances body performance and moves you into the inflammation-free zone towards, health, vitality and wellness.   

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” I find this simple quote by Michael Pollan, in his book

In Defense of Food, sage advice.

That said, don’t forget to enjoy a tall, organic, green juice in the morning, as you take in the gift of each sunrise. Find some gumption to make a difference by stepping outside of your comfort zone, as an ambassador for God, to surprise someone with an act of kindness. Here is mine: Happy Birthday to my dear brother Palmer! You are a wonderful Daddy and I love visiting your home, where I enjoy sitting in your backyard; your mini English Garden, carefully designed with beautiful plants, flowers, trees and bushes, all tended by you with expert care. It is simply gorgeous. Love you!

Julia Chiappetta is the author of “Breast Cancer: The Notebook” (Gemini Media, 2006) and is also the owner of Julia Chiappetta Consulting. She lives in Cos Cob.

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