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GundryMD Guide to Polyphenols


If you’re one to keep up on the trends in the health and wellness world, it’s likely that you’ve already heard of polyphenols by now. However, with all the jargon and fleeting trends that get passed around on social media, it can be hard to keep track of what’s what.

Most of the recommended health products available on today’s market contain polyphenols, so it’s no wonder that people have begun to discuss their benefits on a larger scale. Experts and scientists across the globe claim that polyphenols play a crucial role in ensuring continued health and longevity.

With all the research being done, more and more Americans are wondering if they might be “polyphenol deficient.” The studies regarding polyphenol deficiency are still in their early phases, but scientists are beginning to learn more about the common symptoms that may come along with polyphenol deficiency.

What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are the building blocks of plant life. They play a vital role in a plant’s ability to develop phytochemicals. They are defined by their chemical structure. Polyphenols are responsible for giving plants their colors, textures, tastes, and smells. Without polyphenols, we wouldn’t have the vibrancy of the plant kingdom to enrich our lives.1

Polyphenols protect plants against the effects of UV radiation.2 They also have protective properties and health benefits that humans can utilize. Polyphenols are incredibly potent antioxidants and are an excellent tool for protecting against oxidative stress. Polyphenols are more common than you might think, and they are readily available in foods like green tea, dark chocolate, and cocoa.

Sources of Polyphenols

  1. Ginger
  2. Cumin
  3. Cinnamon
  4. Oregano
  5. Cocoa
  6. Red wine
  7. Seeds
  8. Nuts
  9. Most vegetables
  10. Fruits and berries

The Different Types of Polyphenols

There are four basic categories of polyphenolic compounds, and some of them can be broken down into additional subgroups.3


Flavonoids are metabolites that can be found throughout nature, and they tend to be sensitive to environmental factors like temperature due to their polyphenolic structure.4

When it comes to all the subgroups of nutrients recognized by science, flavonoids are the largest.

Here are a few of the most common flavonoids.6

Flavonols – Commonly found in apples, nuts, and grains.
Flavones – Commonly found in parsley and other greens.
Flavonones – Commonly found in citrus fruits.
Flavan-3-ols – The most commonly consumed flavonoids in America. Commonly found in bananas, pears, and other fruits.
Anthocyanidins – The group of plant pigments responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their color.

Flavonoids can be found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, red wine, as well as other plant-based foods.7


Most of the time, the American diet does not contain large amounts of stilbenes. Stilbenes have antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that may protect against phytopathogens. They are most commonly found in wine and tree nuts.8

Resveratrol is a stilbene that has gained much traction recently, and it is readily available in foods such as dark chocolate. Research has found that increasing the consumption of resveratrol may postpone some of the signs of aging.9


Just like all the other polyphenols, lignans boast antioxidant properties and may hold potential for therapeutic use.10 Lignans in particular, have shown signs of having a positive effect on LDL cholesterol. Researchers believe that lignans may also work to promote uterine, prostate, and colon health.11

Phenolic Acids

Phenolic acids have been stepping into the spotlight when it comes to research regarding severe health conditions like cardiovascular disorders.12 There are a few different types of phenolic acids, some of which include caffeic acid and ferulic acid, which can both be found in coffee. Phenolic acids are also commonly found in spices like clove and cinnamon.13

Indicators of Polyphenol Deficiency

Some potential indicators of polyphenol deficiency include but are not limited to:

● Fatigue25
● Muscle aches25
● Joint stiffness26
● Nausea28
● Shortness of breath29

These are all symptoms of oxidative stress, and the antioxidant properties exhibited by polyphenols can help the body to combat oxidative stress. If you have noticed any of the symptoms above, you may want to increase your green tea, dark chocolate, or cocoa consumption. These are three readily available sources of polyphenols that are great allies to have on hand when combating oxidative stress.

Important Things to Note About Polyphenols

If you are a wine drinker, you’re likely already familiar with tannins. Well, there is a unique class of polyphenols known as proanthocyanidins. They are condensed tannins that are found in the skin and seeds of grapes, which is why proanthocyanidins are found in high levels in red wine.14

Proanthocyanidins are one of the most potent polyphenols, and they are believed to work wonders when it comes to protecting the body against oxidative damage. In addition to wine, some other common foods with high proanthocyanidin content include apples, nuts, and berries.16

Polyphenols are not considered to be an integral component for health and nutrition, but research is showing promising results when it comes to giving the health and well-being of the body a boost.17

Anti-Aging Properties

The antioxidant properties of polyphenols have shown promising results when it comes to assisting the body with slowing and reducing the signs and symptoms of aging. As you age, the cells and tissues in your body fall victim to the effects of free radicals and cellular stress.22 One of the best polyphenols for preventing premature aging is resveratrol.23

Positive Effects on Blood Sugar

Recent studies have shown that foods with high polyphenol content may have positive effects on the body’s ability to inhibit glucose absorption. This may help the body to retain stable blood sugar and decrease the likelihood of developing some of the adverse effects associated with high blood sugar levels.24

However, if you suffer from any pre-existing health conditions, it is vital that you do not attempt to replace your medications with polyphenols. If you wish to experiment with the potential benefits of high polyphenol content foods on blood sugar, be sure to consult with your doctor before doing so.

Are Polyphenol Supplements the Right Choice?

While there is still much research to be done in the realm of polyphenols, the results up to this point have been very promising. The antioxidant benefits alone are reason enough to give polyphenols a try. There are a wide variety of polyphenols from which to choose. If you aren’t sure where to start, there are a few simple polyphenol-rich supplements that are likely to be available at your local health food store that would serve as a good starting point. Some of these sources of polyphenols include green tea extract, cocoa, pomegranate extract, and mulberry.


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    2. “Edible Plants As Sunscreen – Environmental Nutrition Article”. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    3. “Polyphenols Health Benefit”. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    4. GR, Beecher. “Overview Of Dietary Flavonoids: Nomenclature, Occurrence And Intake. – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2003. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
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    7. “Flavonoids”. Linus Pauling Institute. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    8. Miura T, Muraoka S, Ikeda N, Watanabe M, Fujimoto Y. Antioxidative and Prooxidative Action of Stilbene Derivatives. Pharmacology & Toxicology. 2008;86(5):203-208. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0773.2000.pto860502.x.
    9. Smoliga J, Baur J, Hausenblas H. Resveratrol and health – A comprehensive review of human clinical trials. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2011;55(8):1129-1141. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201100143.
    10. Imran, Muhammad et al. “Potential Protective Properties Of Flax Lignan Secoisolariciresinol Diglucoside”. N.p., 2015. Print.

References (Part Two)

    11. Fukumitsu S, et al. “Flaxseed Lignan Lowers Blood Cholesterol And Decreases Liver Disease Risk Factors In Moderately Hypercholesterolemic Men. – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2010. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    12. Ren, N. et al. “Phenolic Acids Suppress Adipocyte Lipolysis Via Activation Of The Nicotinic Acid Receptor GPR109A (Hm74a/PUMA-G)”. N.p., 2009. Print.
    13. Shan B, et al. “Antioxidant Capacity Of 26 Spice Extracts And Characterization Of Their Phenolic Constituents. – Pubmed – NCBI” N.p., 2005. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    15. Bagchi, Debasis. “Free Radicals And Grape Seed Proanthocyanidin Extract: Importance In Human Health And Disease Prevention”. N.p., 2000. Print.
    16. “Proanthocyanidins – Powerful Flavonoid Antioxidants You Should Add To Your Diet”. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    17. “Polyphenols: (EUFIC)”. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    18.”Angiogenesis Inhibitors”. National Cancer Institute. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    19. Adair, Thomas and Jean-Pierre Montani. “Overview Of Angiogenesis”. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.

References (Part Three)

    20. Scoditti E, et al. “Mediterranean Diet Polyphenols Reduce Inflammatory Angiogenesis Through MMP-9 And COX-2 Inhibition In Human Vascular Endothelial Cells: A Potential… – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    21. Scoditti E, et al. “Mediterranean Diet Polyphenols Reduce Inflammatory Angiogenesis Through MMP-9 And COX-2 Inhibition In Human Vascular Endothelial Cells: A Potential… – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    22. Menendez, Javier. “Xenohormetic And Anti-Aging Activity Of Secoiridoid Polyphenols Present In Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A New Family Of Gerosuppressant Agents: Cell Cycle: Vol 12, No 4”. N.p., 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    23. “Polyphenols And Aging: Ingenta Connect”. N.p., 2010. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    24. Pandey, Kanti Bhooshan and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi. “Plant Polyphenols As Dietary Antioxidants In Human Health And Disease”. N.p., 2009. Print.
    25. Myburgh, Kathryn H. “Polyphenol Supplementation: Benefits For Exercise Performance Or Oxidative Stress?”. N.p., 2014. Print.
    26. Shen CL, et al. “Dietary Polyphenols And Mechanisms Of Osteoarthritis. – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2012. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    27. Kalt W, et al. “Recent Research On Polyphenolics In Vision And Eye Health. – Pubmed – NCBI”. N.p., 2010. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
    28. Dryden, Gerald W, Ming Song, and Craig McClain. “Polyphenols And Gastrointestinal Diseases”. N.p., 2006. Print.
    29. Pandey, Kanti Bhooshan and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi. “Plant Polyphenols As Dietary Antioxidants In Human Health And Disease”. N.p., 2009. Print.