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Updated: Apr 4, 2023

What are these foods, and what's the benefit of eating them? They are amazing micronutrients called polyphenols.

Phenols are chemical structures in plants and 'poly' means 'many'. They act as plant protectors, as a shield from 'bad boys' free radicals. Exactly like SPF cream protects your skin, polyphenols job is to protect the leaves as well as fruits from sun damage.

Plants have to harvest sunlight and convert it into sugars and oxygen. The process of this production is very damaging to mitochondria (the battery of the cell). Hence, plants protect themselves with polyphenols. They need sunlight but also gets damaged by it.

The more stress caused, for example growing at a high altitude, the more polyphenols produced. Especially in the leaf part. Olive Oil is a great delivery device for polyphenols. The bitter the better.

"If olive oil makes you cough, it means it's very high in polyphenols"

Polyphenols are like prebiotics. They feed our gut with friendly bacteria. As well as change the microbiome for the better.

They are not absorbed very well by the system but will interact with the microbiome whilst lowering any inflammation.

"Red lettuce has more content of polyphenols than green Roman lettuce."


A group of people was divided into three subgroups. Group number one was offered several glasses of red wine throughout the day. Group number two was put on the same wine, only alcohol content was removed. Group number three was asked to drink gin instead of wine.

What was the outcome? Group number one and two showed a big increase in polyphenols where the gin-drinking team had no health improvement.

What are the best foods containing polyphenols? There are many options out there. Starting with drinks like tea, not just general black tea, but also green tea, matcha tea, yerba mate. When it comes to matcha, it's best to invest in the Japanese version as the Chinese one will have a lot of pesticides.

Cocoa, coffee fruit powder, as well as coffee beans, have a high content of polyphenols. Also, herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme. Romans were so impressed with sage that its name means salvation. But the highest content of polyphenols as a seasoning can be found in cloves, black pepper as well as cinnamon.

Darker vegetables are much richer in polyphenols, especially purple sweet potatoes


One more time, there were three groups of people. Group number one was offered 1l of Olive oil per week. Group number two was on the same amount of calories but instead of olive oil, they were consuming nuts. Group number three was on a low-fat Mediterranean diet.

Over five years, groups number one and two showed a 30% reduction in heart attack and improved memory. Plus olive oil drinking group showed an 87% reduction in breast cancer.

A low-fat diet group had no health improvement.

Chocolate content

Dark chocolate is very rich in polyphenols but can be bitter. Dutch came up with the idea of removing the bitter taste from chocolate thus, removing polyphenols at the same time. If you read chocolate packaging and see dutch processed or alkaline processed - run away.

Some candy companies mastered the process of adding back polyphenols into chocolate, brands like Cadbury or Nestle.

Some studies show polyphenols in chocolate improves cardiovascular health as well as better brain function. Increases veins flexibility and prevents capillary walls from sticking.

"Red wine. If grapes are made to undergo suffering, being under-watered, heated at high altitudes the higher polyphenol content. When selecting wine, look for biodynamic and organic options. Read labels."

My favourite source of polyphenols is a good quality olive oil (bitter). Therefore, I would like to encourage you (if haven't tried yet) to celebrate your healthy diet. Take a selfie with your olive oil and tag me on Instagram

with your photo including hashtag #polyphenolday

Aggie Singh

skincare couch

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