64 Foods High in Polyphenols

Polyphenols are a group of health-friendly compounds found in plant foods. They occur naturally in many plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, tea, red wine, and dark chocolate.

Polyphenols act as antioxidants in the body, which means they help protect the body and neutralize free radicals that can damage cells. Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen molecules produced by normal cellular processes and external factors such as radiation, air pollution, smoking and chemical exposure.

Without antioxidants to neutralize free radicals, cells can be injured, increasing the risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Read on to learn more about polyphenol types, health benefits, and potential risks.

Types of polyphenols

Over 8,000 polyphenols have been discovered. Researchers are still trying to understand exactly how these chemicals affect the human body.


Flavonoids account for more than half of the currently known polyphenols. The five different types of flavonoids are:

  • anthocyanin
  • Flavan-3-ols
  • flavonoids
  • flavanones
  • flavonols

Flavonoids are found in foods such as onions, kale, parsley, tea, red wine, and soybeans.

Phenolic acid

Phenolic acids make up about 30% of all known polyphenols. Two classes of phenolic acids are hydroxybenzoic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid. Phenolic acids are found in foods such as grapes, berries, pomegranates, walnuts, chocolate, coffee, and green tea.


Polyphenolamides have subgroups called capsaicinoids and avenamides. Capsaicin contains capsaicin, which produces the spiciness of peppers. Avenanthramides are found in oats and are thought to help lower LDL (low density lipoprotein, considered “bad”) cholesterol.

Other polyphenols

Some polyphenols are only one type, so they make up a small percentage of these compounds. This group includes polyphenols such as:

  • Resveratrol is unique to grapes and red wine.
  • Ellagic acid is found in berries such as strawberries and raspberries, as well as in the skins of nuts.
  • Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that provides spice turmeric its yellow.
  • Lignans are found in flax, sesame, and some other grains.

Health Benefits of Polyphenols

Most of the health benefits of polyphenols are related to their role as antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Therefore, getting enough antioxidants may help keep cells healthy and reduce the risk of certain types of diseases.

Researchers are still discovering the health benefits of polyphenols, so more research is needed to understand all the benefits this compound can provide. Here are the potential health benefits of polyphenols:

lower blood sugar levels

Polyphenols may help keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Research shows that regular tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In addition, systematic reviews (summaries of the medical literature) and meta-analyses (examining data from many independent studies) suggest that each cup of coffee consumed daily can reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 8%.

Anthocyanins, found in berries and grapes, are another polyphenol that has been linked to lower risk and help manage type 2 diabetes.

These polyphenols are believed to help blood sugar levels by:

  • Protects insulin-producing cells in the pancreas from free radical oxidation
  • reduce inflammation
  • Prevents starches and simple carbohydrates from being fully digested, which helps prevent blood sugar spikes

increase insulin sensitivity

One of the potential causes of type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance. When you become insulin resistant, cells respond less to the hormone insulin and glucose stays in the blood longer.

Increasing the sensitivity of cells to insulin helps bring in more glucose from the blood, keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

A 2017 clinical trial looked at the effects of adding more than 300 mg of strawberry and cranberry polyphenols to the diet. They found that the polyphenols in strawberries and cranberries were effective in improving insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance.

reduce cancer risk

Plant-based diets are often associated with lower cancer risk. Polyphenols may be at least partly responsible.

Research shows that polyphenols can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as:

  • colon cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • Epithelial (skin) cancer
  • Endometrial (endometrial) cancer
  • breast cancer

Since antioxidants help prevent cell damage, polyphenols are thought to reduce the risk of cells mutating and becoming cancerous due to damage.Additionally, polyphenols, such as flavonoids, may help increase apoptosis factors, which may help control tumor cell growth and signal cell death to remove cancer cells.

reduce inflammation

Chronic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of several health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disease.

A 2014 study looked at the effects of polyphenolic lignans on markers of inflammation in the body. The study found that the higher the concentration of lignans in the body, the lower the inflammatory markers.

Improve heart health

Increasing the amount of polyphenols in the diet may improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Polyphenols may improve several risk factors for heart disease, including:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower LDL cholesterol
  • Raises HDL (high-density lipoprotein, considered “good”) cholesterol
  • Can prevent blood clots

Resveratrol, lignans, and flavonoids were all associated with improved cardiovascular risk factors.

It’s worth noting, however, that not all studies have delivered these benefits. For example, resveratrol has not always been shown to have heart health benefits, but this may be because red wine is generally consumed in smaller amounts to avoid drinking too much.

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Enhance brain function

Studies have shown that polyphenols can enhance brain function and prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

It is thought that the polyphenol curcumin found in turmeric, a spice often used in cooking, may partly explain why fewer people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in India. The researchers found that older adults who regularly consumed curry, which often contained turmeric, had improved cognitive function compared to those who rarely ate curry.

Another study found that older adults who drank green tea were less likely to experience cognitive decline than older adults who drank coffee or black tea.

The benefits on brain function may be related to antioxidant effects and improved cerebral blood flow.

improve digestion

Eating polyphenols can improve your digestion by promoting the growth of good bacteria while limiting the growth of bad bacteria.

For example, research suggests that blueberries may promote the growth of the “good” bacteria Bifidobacterium.At the same time, green tea may slow the growth of potentially harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile (C. Difference), Escherichia coli (Escherichia coli), and Salmonella typhimurium.

Researchers are just beginning to understand the role of the gut microbiome in overall health. The microbiome is the balance of microorganisms normally present in the digestive tract.

The bacteria in the gut are believed to play a role in mental health, immune system, digestion, and more. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balance of good bacteria can help support your overall health.

Foods rich in polyphenols

Polyphenols are found in a variety of plant foods. Often, people have heard of antioxidants in popular foods like dark chocolate, tea, red wine, coffee, and berries. But you may not know that polyphenols are found in many other common foods, including:


Vegetables rich in polyphenols include:

  • broccoli
  • Radish
  • spinach
  • red lettuce
  • onion
  • asparagus
  • artichoke
  • shallots
  • garlic


Fruits rich in polyphenols include:

  • blueberry
  • Strawberry
  • blueberry
  • blackberries
  • cranberry
  • Grape
  • Cherry
  • lemon
  • grapefruit
  • tangerinr
  • pear
  • Apple
  • peach
  • Plum
  • Pomegranate
  • nectarine
  • apricot
  • olives and olive oil


Grains rich in polyphenols include:

  • oat
  • rye
  • wheat

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds rich in polyphenols include:

  • Walnut
  • almond
  • flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • walnut
  • Chestnut
  • hazelnut


Beans rich in polyphenols include:

  • black beans
  • white beans
  • soybean
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh (made from fermented soybeans)

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices high in polyphenols include:

  • turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • cumin
  • clove
  • celery seeds
  • basil
  • ginger
  • Marjoram
  • coriander
  • Mint
  • oregano
  • Rosemary
  • wise man
  • thyme
  • Lemon Verbena


Other foods and drinks rich in polyphenols include:

  • green tea
  • black tea
  • Red wine
  • dark chocolate
  • cocoa powder
  • coffee
  • vitriol

Risks and Side Effects

Eating a balanced diet rich in polyphenols is safe for most people.

However, if you’re considering trying polyphenol supplements, be aware of potential side effects. Supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and tend to provide higher doses of polyphenols.

More research is needed to understand the safety and effectiveness of polyphenol supplements. Be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.

In addition, many polyphenol-rich foods are rich in other compounds, such as fiber. Sudden increases in fiber intake can cause some digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating, and constipation. So, if you want to increase the amount of polyphenols in your diet, it’s best to do it slowly.

Lectins are another component of plant foods. Some sources that are high in these proteins are raw legumes and whole grains. Studies have shown that lectins may disrupt digestion, weaken the gut and cause nutrient deficiencies due to their ability to bind to other foods.

If you eat foods high in lectins and notice symptoms, consider soaking and cooking foods (such as dried beans and other legumes) with lectins, as this can reduce lectins by up to 50 percent.


Polyphenols are compounds found in plant foods that act as antioxidants and may reduce disease risk. Examples of polyphenols include flavonoids, phenolic acids, polyphenolamides, resveratrol, curcumin, and lignans.

Potential health benefits include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, inflammation and cognitive decline. Foods rich in polyphenols include berries, beans, oats, garlic, spinach and other plant foods.

VigorTip words

Polyphenols are found in a variety of plant foods. So, if you eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and cook with a variety of spices, you are likely to get a lot of polyphenols.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much polyphenols should you consume per day?

    Based on current research, it is unclear how many doses of polyphenols are consumed per day. However, researchers believe that eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day will provide enough polyphenols for health benefits.

  • Are polyphenols good for your gut?

    Studies show that polyphenols help support a healthy gut microbiome, which maintains gut health, supports digestion, boosts the immune system, and supports brain health.

  • What do polyphenols do to your body?

    Polyphenols act as antioxidants in the body, so they help protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that polyphenols may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cognitive decline, and promote gut health.