We all know that antioxidants are important to include in any eating plan, and that the best way to add them to our diet is to get enough of the whole, natural foods found mainly in the produce section. But did you know that one type of these free-radical-neutralizing compounds is called polyphenols? These micronutrients help protect plants—and may help boost your health, too.
Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant that’s been shown to confer health benefits. In plants, they’re often found in the skin or rind.
When circulating throughout our bodies, antioxidants like polyphenols may help or delay cell damage from free radicals—unstable molecules that damage our cells and DNA.
Though the human body does a good job of handling normal levels of free radicals, factors like smoking, stress, and pollutants can contribute to the generation of even more.
The Best Ammo: Food With Antioxidants
This is where eating foods with polyphenols comes in. Fruits and vegetables with these substances—anthocyanins, flavonoids, resveratrol, and ellagic acid—fight free radicals.
Polyphenols are found in foods with vibrant hues, including berries, pomegranates, and grapes, as well as in bitter- or astringent-tasting foods like onions, apples, pears, kale, and cocoa.
...And Even-More-Convenient Drinks
Beverages like red wine, fruit juices, and green tea are also known for their polyphenols. An in vitro study at UCLA found that pomegranate juice has, on average, more antioxidant potency than red wine, grape juice, or tea.
Fresh pomegranate—which is a seasonal fruit—can be hard to find. But if you do find it, you’re in luck: Its ruby red arils have anthocyanins, while its rind and the white pith that surround the fruit have ellagitannins, another awesome polyphenol.
So to get the full benefit, go the short and sweet route: Drink 100% pomegranate juice and get all the benefits of the whole pomegranate—free radicals be damned.
Some information for this article was provided by POM Wonderful LLC.