Posted: 26 Jun 2014 08:00 AM PDT
Polyphenol is a generic term for the several thousand plant-based molecules that have antioxidant properties. The health benefits of antioxidants are well known and polyphenols are also helpful for regulating enzyme function and stimulating cell receptors.  Polyphenols are divided into four primary groups: phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes, and flavonoids.  Plants with polyphenol activity have played a major role in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. With an anti-inflammatory action, support for the liver, and promoting normal circulatory health, their benefits are plentiful.
6 Benefits of Polyphenol Consumption
Polyphenols are available in a wide variety of unprocessed raw vegetables and fruits. With the explosion of polyphenol research and the extensive discussion in scientific journals, potential therapeutic applications for these compounds have been discovered. Here are just a few of the benefits related to polyphenols.
1. Skin Protection
The consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and antioxidant-rich beverages may protect the skin from UV radiation. Resveratrol, a compound in red wine, has active polyphenic qualities that aid in protecting the skin. Other compounds, like silymarin, genistein, delphinidin, pomegranate fruit extract, grape seed, proanthocyanidins, and green tea polyphenols, may also ward off UV damage. 
2. Brain Health
The antioxidant effect of polyphenols offers holistic support for the aging neurological system, possibly combating the early onset of dementia-like symptoms. Polyphenols have been linked with lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Researchers also note that polyphenols offer a holistic approach to neurological health by addressing the complex physiology involved with certain brain disorders. 
3. Supports Normal Blood Sugar
Glucose management is an issue for many people in the United States, with about 1 out of every 10 people having type II diabetes or prediabetes. Flavonoids, a group of polyphenols, has displayed beneficial effects for supporting normal blood sugar levels. These flavonoids, typically found in foods like tea and cocoa, appear to enhance insulin secretion, reduce cell death, regulate glucose metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidative stress, and increase glucose uptake by cells. 
4. Nutritional Support for Cancer?
While polyphenols won’t cure cancer, research has explored their potential therapeutic role. Some polyphenols appear to offer protection against carcinogens — cancer-causing substances present in food and the environment.   Although coffee raises an eyebrow among some health-conscious consumers, research suggests that the polyphenols in coffee may help to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. 
5. Blood Pressure
Studies indicate flavonoids, like catechins, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids, are important dietary compounds that support normal blood pressure by inhibiting the physiological mechanisms which trigger hypertension. 
6. Cardiovascular Health
Polyphenols found in cocoa have been shown to reduce cardiovascular stress through the inhibition of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, oxidation. These compounds also increase the vasodilation of blood vessels to promote circulation.  Keep in mind that organic dark chocolate, 72% cacao and above, is where the benefits have been found. In other words, cheap candy is not good for your health.
The Best Sources of Polyphenols
Natural foods like vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, and red wine are some of the primary sources of polyphenols. Citrus fruits contain specific types of polyphenols, like flavanones, while other fruits contain a wider range of polyphenols. It’s believed that growing conditions play a substantial role in polyphenol content. To ensure the best and most potent sources of polyphenols from foods, choose produce that is organic and non-GMO. Local foods may also be fresher and more abundant in their natural antioxidant compounds compared with imported varieties.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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