In the world of health and wellness, antioxidants and polyphenols are some of the hottest buzzwords you will hear about these days. What antioxidants are in green tea? I hear you say!
Ever come across a health article about how green tea and blueberries are great sources of antioxidants and how you should include more of these superfoods (or drinks) in your diet?
Well, if you are curious to learn more about these compounds, which ones specifically are in green tea as well as their health benefits plus the science behind them, then read on to get all the answers!
Understanding Polyphenols & Antioxidants: What are They?
Let us start with the basics – understanding the terms that we keep hearing about – sometimes interchangeably even when they do not exactly mean the same thing.
Antioxidants are molecules that help reduce harmful free radical compounds in your body. Antioxidant levels in our bodies are essential to helping us keep our bodies healthy and illness-free. While the human body can produce antioxidants organically, they can also be supplemented by our diet of food or drinks with high antioxidant levels. There are many types of antioxidants, polyphenols being one of the many categories.
With that, polyphenols are a group of plant-based compounds that have plenty of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And, because of their strength in antioxidant properties, they tend to be termed antioxidants as well.
The Science Behind Polyphenols’ Antioxidative Properties: How Do They Work?
Now that we have cleared up the difference between the terms, let us explore the science behind the multiple health benefits of polyphenols.
Starting with the crux of the problem which is, free radicals. What are they you may ask? Bad news – in short. To elaborate, free radicals are chemical compounds that have a single electron in their outer shell. If you remember your chemistry, all compounds need a full outer shell to be stable – and as a result, free radicals are incredibly unstable, which makes them reactive with other substances in our body, damaging them in the process.
Unfortunately for us, free radicals are an inevitable by-product of our cells and so the challenge is to ensure that these by-products do not reach dangerously high levels which could cause extensive damage to our bodies and health.
PSA: Free radical levels can also be increased by other external factors like pollution, stress, smoking, alcohol, and more.
Without a counterbalance, this oxidative stress caused by the free radicals will cause irreparable damage to our cells. And that is where antioxidants like polyphenols join the fray! By contributing electrons to the free radicals and stabilising them, the free radicals will no longer need to react with and damage surrounding cells! Hurray!
With their combative properties against harmful free radicals, it is easy to see why antioxidants like polyphenols are the darling of the health industry!
What are the Benefits of Polyphenols with Antioxidant Properties?
Okay so we get it, polyphenols with antioxidant properties are good for our health, but specifically in what ways?
There have been many studies about the beneficial effects of polyphenols, here are some of them:
- Reduction of the incidence of coronary heart diseases
- Cancer prevention
- Anti-diabetic potential
- Anti-aging properties
- Reduced risk of neurogenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s
- Weight loss
- Healthy digestion
- General boosting of the immune system
- And many more
With the wealth of potential health benefits, it is little wonder why so many consumers are looking to boost their daily intake of this special category of antioxidants!
How Do You Increase Polyphenols in Your Diet?
Interested to include more antioxidants, specifically polyphenols in your regular diet for health purposes but do not know where to start? Well, here are some useful tips for you!
A polyphenol-rich diet requires more than 650 milligrams per day. While most plant-based food and drinks contain polyphenols and are already typically part of your staple diet, some are more nutritious and more importantly more bioavailable to us than others!
To help you maximise your gains, here are some of the food categories that have some of the highest polyphenol levels. It’s time for you to start incorporating more of them into your diet!
Low in calories, high in nutritious content like fibre, vitamin C, and of course polyphenols, make berries a popular category of food for a polyphenol-rich diet! Not to mention their versatility of being incorporated into diets – from having them raw, as a juice, or incorporated into breakfasts and desserts.
- Elderberries come with 870 milligrams (per half-cup serving)
- Blueberries with 535 milligrams
- Blackcurrant with 485 milligrams
Another healthy food supplement in its own right, Flaxseeds, apart from their high fibre content, best used to improve digestive issues and regular bowel movements, are also great in their polyphenol content!
With approximately 230 milligrams with each tablespoon, you can easily hit your daily intake with 3 additional scoops of flaxseed to your breakfast cereal, salad, smoothie. If you want to make it more creative, you can use flax baked into bread or breakfast muffins.
Here is an obvious candidate! A regular staple in any healthy diet, vegetables also double up as a great source of polyphenols.
Some vegetables with particularly high polyphenols include:
- Red Onions
- Green and Red Pepper
Coffees & Teas – Antioxidant content
Not a fan of changing up your diet? How about your beverages?
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you are in luck! Coffee and teas have some of the highest polyphenol content of all beverages:
- Coffee: 142 – 236 milligrams (per 100g) – depending on ready to drink or roasted and ground coffee
- Green tea: 125.8 milligrams
- Black tea: 90.0 milligrams
- Chinese tea: 39.4 milligrams
- Barley tea: 12.6 milligrams
But…. the best drink of all is…
Matcha tea: 1765 milligrams!!
What antioxidants are in Green Tea?
The proven health benefits associated with Green Tea are in fact due to the presence of antioxidants such as polyphenols. Polyphenols include a large number of compounds including, flavonols, flavandiols, EGCG and phenolic acids.
An interesting point to note: amongst all the tea polyphenols, it is EGCG (predominantly present in matcha green teas) that makes up around 30% of Matcha Teas antioxidant content and it is the most bioavailable and therefore, effective in neutralizing free radicals. This is one of the many reasons why green tea, especially Matcha tea has been favoured significantly as a health drink over other forms of tea.
Boost Your Daily Intake of Green Tea Antioxidants and Polyphenols!
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