Polyphenols (which include flavanoids) are high molecular weight organic compounds found in color-dense fruits and vegetables. Two recent studies appear to corroborate scientific evidence that diets high in polyphenols help lower risk for several chronic diseases, and may contribute to longevity.

Researchers at the University of Barcelona analysed a 12 year follow-up study of data collected from 807 men and women aged 65 or older in the Tuscany region of Italy. The original study used questionaires to estimate participant’s polyphenol intake, but the team at Barcelona felt this was unreliable, so they developed a more objective and precise biomarker called TUP (Total Urinary Polyphenols). Applying this new marker as a proxy for polyphenol intake, the researchers discovered that mortality was reduced by 30% for those participants with a high polyphenol diet (in excess of 650 mg/ day), compared to the group with low polyphenol intake (less than 500 mg per day).

Meanwhile, a separate Spanish study sponsored by Probeltebio, may shed some light as to how polyphenols help to improve cardiovascular function. 24 pigs were divided into two groups, with one group receiving a normal diet, and the second group receiving a high cholesterol diet. Although the high cholesterol diet compromised endothelial function, after 10 days of supplementing with pomegranite extract standardized for 200 mg of the polyphenol punicalagin, the arterial vasodilating capacity of the high cholesterol animals was hardly diminished compared to the control pigs. The inflammatory serum marker called MCP-1 was significantly reduced, and stores of both HDL and LDL showed increased resistance to oxidative damage.

This as yet unpublished research provides in vivo evidence that polyphenols from pomegranite may help to improve cardiovascular health by helping to lower oxidative damage to endothelial cells, and to inhibit plaque formation on the inside wall of arteries.

Of course, cardiovascular health and functioning is of interest to a lot of people for other than longevity reasons. The cardiovascular system delivers nutrients to muscle tissue, oxygen to the cells, and fat to the mitochondria to be burned for fuel. For any athlete seeking to maximize performance, supporting optimum cardiovascular function is essential. This is one reason why polyphenol containing ingredients are becoming popular additions to sport supplement products.

Polyphenol-rich green tea is ubiquitous in fat loss supplements. Beets (Beta vulgaris) are  gaining popularity, especially in pre-workout products, because the high nitrate content helps stimulate production of nitric oxide, yet beets are also laden with polyphenols. Other popular polyphenol containing ingredients include cocoa, raspberry (Rubus sp.) or raspberry ketones,  pomegranite (Punica granatum), lycopene from tomatoes, resveratrol from grapes, quercetin, acai (Euterpe oleracea), goji (Lycium barbarum), cranberries (Vaccinium sp.), cherries (Prunus sp.), noni (Morinda citrifolia), and mangosteen (Garcinia mangostanum)


Andres-Lacueva C, Zamora-Ros, R, Rabassa M, Cherubini A, Urpi-Sarda M, Bandinelli S, Ferucci L, High concentrations of a urinary biomarker of polyphenol intake are associated with decreased mortality in older adults, Journal of Nutrition, 143: pages 1445 - 1450 Sept. 2013

Penalver M, Badimon L, Lopez JA, Vilahur G, Padro T, Mendieta G, Cassani L, Supplementation with a pomegranite extract abrogates hypercholesterolemia-induced coronary endothilial disfunction in swine, Catalan Institute For Cardiovascular Sciences, due for publication in the European Heart Journal.

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