Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Powerful Polyphenols

Would you like to reduce age-related oxidation, lower your cholesterol, and decrease your risk of high blood pressure all while eating nature’s candy? Research is pouring in on the health benefits of berries, all thanks to the polyphenols they contain.

Polyphenols are chemical compounds found in fruit, vegetables, cocoa, tea, and other plants. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and other biological properties which may protect us from oxidative stress and some diseases.

There are over 8,000 polyphenic compounds identified to date, the largest and most prevalent class being flavonoids. Berries contain a variety of different flavonoids, such as anthocyanin’s which give berries their bright color and tannins which give berries their tart taste.

Oxygen-radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a method for measuring the antioxidant potential of foods. The higher the ORAC value, the higher the concentration of antioxidant properties. Of the most popular berries, blueberries ranked the highest, followed by blackberries, raspberries, and finally strawberries.

While blueberries reign supreme when it comes to ORAC value, other berries should not be overlooked.

One study highlighting blackberries found a positive impact on motor and cognitive skills, which often decline with age, in animals consuming them.

Raspberries contain inflammatory fighting properties, similar to ibuprofen, which can help reduce pain from arthritis, gout, and many other conditions. 

Convincing evidence of berries powerful health benefits was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A study following 156,957 men and women over 14 years found those consuming the highest intake of anthocyanin's (mostly from blueberries and strawberries) had an 8% reduced risk of hypertension compared to those with the lowest anthocyanin intake. 

Several other studies highlighting berry consumption have been linked to increased good cholesterol and reduction in cognitive decline. We recommend eating all berries on a regular basis to enjoy the wealth of health benefits they offer. Try stirring them into oatmeal, using them as a sweetener in plain low fat yogurt, or eat them drizzled with dark chocolate for dessert.

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