Polyphenols. You may have heard the word before being thrown around, especially if you have done some googling on heart health and diet.
If we are going to eat a certain group of foods for our heart health, polyphenols are it!
They definitely don’t sound sexy, but they really do a lot in terms of supporting the cardiovascular system as a whole. Research has shown they may be able to:
Reduce elevated blood pressure
Support your blood vessels to remain flexible, hence improving circulation
Reduce inflammation due to their high antioxidant status
Prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (this is most helpful!)
Polyphenols are lovely in that they don’t only support our cardiovascular health, but are known to also:
Protect our skin from sun damage and pollutants, hence great for anti-ageing!
Provide protection from some cancers
Support blood sugar balance and control
Protect brain health against neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia
So what are polyphenols?
The word polyphenol is an umbrella term for a type of micronutrient found in food. They are then classed into 4 groups, with flavonoids and phenolic acids being the most spoken about groups.
Heard of resveratrol? This is also a polyphenol. If you are looking at a dark coloured plant food, it is most likely a polyphenol, for example, berries or dark green leafy vegetables.
Here I have included a sample day of eating and you will find the polyphenol-rich foods highlighted in bold.
Morning Heart Healthy Porridge (or overnight oats).
A big bowl of oats, made with lazy home-made oat milk (find my recipe for my overnight oats and milk here).
Topped with apples and pears that have been stewed with cinnamon, cloves, star anise. Sprinkled with freshly ground flaxseeds (read my previous blog on why I LOVE them here).
A handful of walnuts and blueberries accompanied with a green tea or matcha latte with almond or oat milk.
Hearty soup or stew including red onion, garlic, sweet potato, broccoli, black beans, baby spinach topped with freshly chopped parsley and spiced with cumin. Do you like bread with your soup or stew? Spread it with some avocado.
Feeling peckish? Don’t feel guilty for having a small amount of low-sugar dark chocolate or a home-made cacao with almond milk or oat milk.
Let’s try a baked fish with a side of asparagus, baby carrots and potatoes, accompanied by a fresh salad including baby spinach, olives and a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil. Oh, and yes, you can have that cheeky glass of red wine.
As you can see, it can be so easy to add all those polyphenols into your day!
I mentioned earlier that the word polyphenol doesn’t sound too exciting, but I must say, that sample day or polyphenol-rich eating looks pretty good to me. More proof that eating for heart health doesn't need to be boring.
Need some one-on-one help with your cardiovascular health? You can book in with me here.
Happy heart health eating!