The colourful world of polyphenols

The colourful world of polyphenols

Polyphenols in food
Have you ever heard that you should eat the colours of the rainbow? Have you wondered what gives food its colour?

A healthy diet has been famously summed up with this simple phrase: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” (Michael Pollan). We have long known that plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are essential for good health. This is largely because of their abundant vitamin, mineral and fibre content. We now know that plant foods have other powerful compounds called polyphenols that give fruits, berries and vegetables their vivid and diverse range of colours. They also enhance the flavour of food and have numerous health benefits.

Polyphenols, or phytochemicals, are thousands of different molecules found in plants, including edible plant food, which are chemically made up of hydroxyl groups on aromatic rings. Plants make them to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation and predators. More than 8,000 polyphenols have been found in different plants. They are classified according to their chemistry (the number and interaction of phenol rings) into four broad classes: phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes and lignans (Manach et al., 2004).

Spices and herbs are the richest sources of polyphenols, which might explain why they have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes over the centuries. Cocoa powder, chocolate and dark berries also have particularly high concentrations of polyphenols. READ MORE…

Published in Nutridate, Vol 28(3), pp. 3-8, Warringal Publications

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