What Are Polyphenols Anyway?

21Aug06

By now you have probably heard about polyphenols, if not from your doctor, then undoubtedly on TV.

Polyphenols are a group of chemical substances found in plants. They’re called “poly”-phenols because they have more than one phenol group per molecule. A phenol is any chemical compound which contains a six-membered aromatic ring, bonded directly to a hydroxyl group (-OH).

Ok, that sounded waaaaaay too geeky. I like pictures better.

Here’s what a phenol looks like:

So, get a bunch of these wobbly little guys together, and you’ve got polyphenols.

Polyphenols are the basis for all the buzz about tea’s healthy properties. What makes them so healthy is that they are thought to be powerful anti-oxidants. Antioxidants are basically chemicals that reduce oxidative damage to cells. Medical researchers have found a high correlation between oxidative damage and the occurrence of disease. Research suggests that consumption of antioxidant-rich foods reduces damage to cells and biochemicals from free radicals.

The jury’s still out on if, and how, tea is linked to the prevention of certain diseases. But that shouldn’t stop you from drinking more of it. It just tastes good. And that should be enough.

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2 Responses to “What Are Polyphenols Anyway?”

  1. 1 Ellen

    If you watered a bean plant with tea would that mean that it would grow bigger and faster than with just water?


  1. 1 Epigallocatechin Gallate « Tea. Uncomplicated

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