Everything you need to know about polyphenols

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Have you heard of polyphenols before?

Polyphenols are the silent leaders when it comes to supporting overall health. In fact, there’s over 8000 polyphenol compounds identified and they have numerous health benefits! Keep on reading to find out more about what they are, where to find them, and how they may benefit you.

 What are polyphenols?

Polyphenols are the main type of bio actives in plant foods. In plants, they help protect them from stressors and pathogens and contribute to their colour, flavour, and smell!


 There are four main type of polyphenols, they are: flavonoids, lignans, phenolic acids, and stilbenes.

What plants are they found in?

 Polyphenols can be found in a wide range of plant foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, and even drinks like tea, coffee and wine. Berries are one of the best sources of polyphenols, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Some of the other highest sources of polyphenols per serve include coffee, dark chocolate, black tea, rye bread and red wine. Here are some of the biggest contenders:

Blueberries: 806mg polyphenol content per serve

Coffee: 408mg polyphenol content per serve

Strawberries: 390mg polyphenol content per serve

Blackberries: 310mg polyphenol content per serve

Raspberries: 310mg polyphenol content per serve

Dark chocolate: 283mg polyphenol content per serve


What are the health benefits?

Polyphenols have been shown to have a number of health benefits, with some having an effect within a mere 30 minutes of eating them!

Neuroprotective [1]

Polyphenols have been shown to support brain health, including improving brain plasticity, supporting memory, and potentially reducing cognitive decline. Studies have found that after having polyphenols, markers of cognitive performance may improve within a couple of hours. Research on berries specifically have found that they can improve processing speed, executive function, attention, and psychomotor function.

Support heart health [2]

Polyphenols have been shown to be benefits for overall heart health, including have anti-inflammatory effects and anti-platelet effects. They may improve cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure and may lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease overall.

Prevent against cancer [3]

While more research is needed, early studies have shown that polyphenols may have a protective effect against cancer.

Support good gut health [2]

Studies have shown that polyphenols exhibit prebiotic-like effects where they support the good colonies of bacteria in our gut, and can increase levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. They may also prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, and increase the amount of beneficial metabolites in our gut.

Supports a healthy pregnancy [4]

Studies have found that the total intake of polyphenols during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of gestational diabetes, and they were also found to be beneficial in relieving gestational diabetes symptoms.

Anti-diabetic [3]

Polyphenols have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, enhance insulin production, and improve glucose response soon after being ingested. They are associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Helps manage weight [5]

A higher intake of polyphenols has been shown to be associated with a significant reduction in body weight, body mass index and waist circumference.

Helps with exercise recovery [6]

Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory effects and have been shown to reduce markers of muscle damage and may support recovery after exercise. Tip: Try adding a handful of berries into your post-training snack or meal, such as natural yoghurt with muesli and a handful of mixed berries.

Longevity [7]

Polyphenols are associated with reduced all-cause mortality and may help you live longer.

Ant-ageing [7]

Studies have found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects attributed to polyphenols may have anti-ageing benefits.

A final word

Polyphenols are bioactive compounds found in plant foods and have been shown to have a number of health benefits. Including sources of polyphenols can have fast-acting benefits, and including them regularly can help to support your overall health throughout your life.


[1] DrljaĨa J, Milošević N, Milanović M, Abenavoli L, Milić N. When the microbiome helps the brain-current evidence. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2023 Jun;29 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):43-58. doi: 10.1111/cns.14076. Epub 2023 Jan 4. PMID: 36601680; PMCID: PMC10314113.

[2] Bié J, Sepodes B, Fernandes PCB, Ribeiro MHL. Polyphenols in Health and Disease: Gut Microbiota, Bioaccessibility, and Bioavailability. Compounds. 2023; 3(1):40-72. https://doi.org/10.3390/compounds3010005

[3] Del Bo' C, Bernardi S, Marino M, Porrini M, Tucci M, Guglielmetti S, Cherubini A, Carrieri B, Kirkup B, Kroon P, Zamora-Ros R, Liberona NH, Andres-Lacueva C, Riso P. Systematic Review on Polyphenol Intake and Health Outcomes: Is there Sufficient Evidence to Define a Health-Promoting Polyphenol-Rich Dietary Pattern? Nutrients. 2019 Jun 16;11(6):1355. doi: 10.3390/nu11061355. PMID: 31208133; PMCID: PMC6627994.

[4] Gao Q, Zhong C, Zhou X, Chen R, Xiong T, Hong M, Li Q, Kong M, Xiong G, Han W, Sun G, Yang X, Yang N, Hao L. Inverse association of total polyphenols and flavonoids intake and the intake from fruits with the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: A prospective cohort study. Clin Nutr. 2021 Feb;40(2):550-559. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.05.053. Epub 2020 Jun 13. PMID: 32593522.

[5] Zhang Y, Balasooriya H, Sirisena S, Ng K. The effectiveness of dietary polyphenols in obesity management: A systematic review and meta-analysis of human clinical trials. Food Chem 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.134668.

[6] Sánchez Díaz M, Martín-Castellanos A, Fernández-Elías VE, López Torres O, Lorenzo Calvo J. Effects of Polyphenol Consumption on Recovery in Team Sport Athletes of Both Sexes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2022 Oct 1;14(19):4085. doi: 10.3390/nu14194085. PMID: 36235737; PMCID: PMC9573146.

[7] Pereira QC, dos Santos TW, Fortunato IM, Ribeiro ML. The Molecular Mechanism of Polyphenols in the Regulation of Ageing Hallmarks. Int J Mol Sci 2023. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24065508.


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