Polyphenols - 2023

Polyphenols : foods rich in these powerful antioxidants

One of the most interesting components present in plants and plant foods are polyphenols, chemical substances full of antioxidants with positive effects for the health of the body. Micronutrients that the body needs and that can be obtained through diet. Various scientific studies and meta-analyses have linked, with various evidences, its long-term consumption with greater protection against the development of cancers, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, osteoporosis and degenerative diseases. And even with a better functioning of cognitive functions, as demonstrated by a study led by Dr. Cinta Valls-Pedret, from the Lipid Unit of the Hospital ClĂ­nic de Barcelona.

The best way is through food and not supplements, as they have side effects

However, it must be borne in mind that polyphenols can also cause side effects, which arise especially, as some research has shown, when they are not taken through food, i.e. as a supplement, although these contraindications are still being studied. Thus, for example, it has been determined that the consumption of polyphenols can affect the absorption of iron by the body, as showed in a 2005 publication in the ‘American Journal of Clinic Nutrition’. Reasons that have led to its recommended intake exclusively through diet.

These are found, for example, in olive oil, a major reason why this ‘liquid gold’ is considered a very healthy product. But it is not the only food rich in polyphenols and in Alimente we are going to compile the best. A publication in the renowned medical and scientific journal ‘European Journal Clinic of Nutrition’ identified in 2010 the 100 foods that contain more polyphenols. Next, we extract what they are and how they can be consumed in order to promote health and disease prevention. The quantities they possess are expressed in milligrams per 100 grams of product.

Cloves, dried mint and other spices

Polyphenols are found in greater proportion in plants and from these come some of the most common spices used in our diet. However, three stand out from the crowd, which is why they top the ranking published by the European Journal Clinic of Nutrition.

  • Clove – 100 grams of this spice contain a total of 15,118 milligrams of polyphenols
  • Dry mint – 11,960 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams
  • Star anise – 5,460 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams

Although they are rich in polyphenols, these spices are not usually consumed in large quantities, since when they are used in the kitchen a small portion is enough to dress various preparations or make teas, for example. Adding a little of these, in addition to improving and/or changing the taste of some dishes, can enhance the contribution of the substances mentioned here.


Cocoa powder is an ally in the achievement of antioxidants to protect the body thanks to its high content of polyphenols -3.448 milligrams per 100 grams of product-. In Alimente we already told how this can help improve cardiovascular health, so dark chocolate is much healthier to have a higher percentage of cocoa. Milk chocolate, as it includes added ingredients such as sugar, is less beneficial and has a much lower polyphenol content than defatted cocoa powder or dark chocolate.

Fruits of the forest

This type of fruit has a high content of polyphenols and, fortunately, within this group we find some very popular options that can be easily purchased in stores and supermarkets:

  • Cranberries – 560 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food
  • Blackberries – 260 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food
  • Strawberries – 235 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of feed
  • Raspberries – 215 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food

In addition, berries play a big role in the kitchen and can be eaten every day at breakfast by adding them to a bowl of cereal, making smoothies with them and eating them alone as part of a healthy dessert.

Dried fruit

Nuts are one of the healthiest foods in the world. In fact, nuts are in the top 5 according to Teresa Fung, assistant professor in the department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. And it is that these, although very caloric, have a high content of fats beneficial to the body, proteins and other compounds such as, for example, polyphenols. In fact, the most noteworthy in this last section are the following:

  • Hazelnuts – 495 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food
  • Nuts – 280 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food
  • Almonds – 187 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food
  • Pecan nuts 493 milligrams of polyphenols per 100 grams of food

Olive oil

Olive oil so typical of Spain is widely known for its nutritional properties, thanks to its fats beneficial to the body and its contribution of polyphenols and antioxidants, especially when extra virgin. The quantity can vary between 5 and 500 milligrams per 100 grams of product, depending on the type of oil.

Also read: Here are the 10 most anti-inflammatory foods