What are polyphenols? -- Polyphenols are chemical substances that are found in some plants. Originally referred to as vitamin P, polyphenols are important because they have powerful antioxidant properties that are active in preventing diseases such as coronary heart disease.
If you?ve forgotten exactly how antioxidants work their magic? Antioxidants are the cleaners of the human body. As their name suggests, they are involved with oxidation reactions that occur in the bodies of animals and humans.
These oxidation reactions are common, and they produce what are called free radicals. Free radicals are bad because they start the chain reactions, which are damaging to the cells in our bodies.
Free radicals are thought to cause many types of cancer by their interaction with our DNA. Some researchers even believe that free radicals are responsible for the aging process in animals and humans.
What antioxidants do is to terminate the chain reactions that free radicals cause. So in a sense, what antioxidants do is to mop up free radicals and prevent them from doing further damage to the cells in our bodies.
For this reason, they have been recognized as being very beneficial for our health. And as a result, most people are advised to try to increase their consumption of antioxidants such as polyphenols in the food that they eat.
So what foods contain polyphenols? Olive oil is of course a terrific source of polyphenols. Other foods such as chocolate, coffee, peanuts, beer, wine, cocoa and green tea are also excellent sources of polyphenols.
Polyphenols, like other antioxidants, have been shown pretty conclusively to have cancer and coronary heart disease-inhibiting properties.
Some specific polyphenol antioxidants, such as quercetin, have been studied more extensively than others. In one study, quercetin was shown to kill cultured skin and prostate cancer cells while leaving normal nonmalignant cells unharmed.
Some people believe that along with their other health benefits, polyphenols have anti-aging properties. Some researches even go further to show that polyphenols are an elixir for eternal youth.
These kinds of claims have been around since the 1950's. At present, we don?t know whether it is free radicals alone that cause aging or a combination of things.
The amount of polyphenols in olive oil varies with a number of factors. When the olives are picked, the way the olives are processed as well as how the oil is stored will all affect how many polyphenols are present in the final product that you take home from the store.
In order to ensure that the olive oil you use is high in polyphenols go for the extra-virgin olive oil.
Extra-virgin olive oils are made from the first pressing of the olives and will contain the highest amount of polyphenols.
The popular Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of olive oil, red wine, fish, and fruits and vegetables, is very rich in polyphenols other antioxidants.
There are studies that show reduced rates of coronary heart disease and Alzheimer?s disease among people who follow the Mediterranean diet.