It is a designation of very diverse substances, therefore their effect is also different. In general, they act as antioxidants and are among the most effective natural free radical scavengers ever recorded for natural antioxidant compounds. They are found in vegetables and fruits. Of the vegetables, broccoli is the richest in polyphenols and zucchini the poorest. For fruit, the highest concentrations were found in blackcurrants, the lowest in nectarines.

Polyphenols, which are found, for example, in red wine grapes, cherries, plums, rose hips and apples, are also considered to be essential nutrients with a wide range of uses.

Elderberries were therefore also formerly regarded as the ‘home pharmacy of German peasants’.

The sloe (or plum) was also long considered a strengthening agent.

Especially berries such as blackberries, raspberries, currants, strawberries, blueberries or boysenberries (a cross between raspberries and blackberries) contain valuable anthocyanins. The chokeberry not only contains a lot of vitamins, but is also particularly high in anthocyanins.

Polyphenols can be divided into:

  • phenolic acids (benzoic acid and its derivatives, gallic acid and allagic acid)
  • flavonoids (flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanidins, flavanols)
  • stilbenes (resveratrol)
  • lignans (matairesinol, secoisolariciresinol)

Effect of polyphenols

There are countless reactions and processes taking place in our cells that are essential for our life. However, these reactions are also the source of by-products called free radicals, which can damage or completely destroy healthy body cells through oxidation. Therefore, our bodies rely on antioxidants to react with these free radicals. This protects cells from damage that can lead to diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but is also part of the body’s natural aging process. A sufficient supply of antioxidants in our diet will provide better protection against these diseases and help slow down the aging process.

Reducing damage to our cells

Flavonoids from foods of plant origin, help to slow down the natural aging process and help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, inhibit cardiovascular and cancer diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Anti-clogging action

There are two types of cholesterol, HDL, which is beneficial to our health, and LDL, which is harmful. If LDL cholesterol starts to oxidise, the risk of plaque forming on the walls of blood vessels increases. Flavonoids, which include flavanols, have been shown to have antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of LDL cholesterol oxidation.

Reducing platelet ‘stickiness’

Flavonoids help to reduce platelet activity, allowing blood to flow more freely and reducing the risk of platelets sticking together in the bloodstream.