I had the opportunity to attend a sponsored event last night to hear some of the latest research on polyphenol compounds, and was fortunate to have a seat right next to Alton Brown, best known for Good Eats, Iron Chef America, and other Food Network and Cooking Channel shows. The socializing and networking was great, and the food at Chef Art Smith’s Table 52 in Chicago was superb. But, now that I have your attention by posting the photo of an extremely personable celebrity, let’s talk about polyphenols.
Polyphenols are plant-based compounds that are included in a group known as phytonutrients, most of which play some role in protecting the plants from damage by sun exposure or infection. The compounds are very beneficial to humans too, however, having powerful antioxidant properties that seem to protect your cells from damage too. These properties reduce the risk for heart disease by reducing the cellular damage that facilitates plaque formation in arteries. Polyphenols are abundant in most all fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, chocolate, olives (and olive oil), and red grapes (red wine). These compounds are so complex that scientists are still sorting out the benefits, but the picture is pretty clear about how you should add these bioactive substances to your metabolism- in food. And, that’s one reason that colorful, nonstarchy vegetables play such an important role in a diet that manages diabetes. Just ask Alton Brown.