What Exactly ARE Polyphenols?

When reading about tea, the word “polyphenols” has a tendency of creeping in.   The scientific term is never really explained in too much length, just that they are good for you.

But, that does not seem like enough.   What exactly are polyphenols and why are they good for you?

Polyphenols, according to WiseGeek.com, are “antioxidants in plants that many believe have a substantial amount of health benefits.”   They work to eliminate free radicals in the body, which are known to cause a series of health problems.   Finally, they might help to prevent premature aging (a sort of Fountain of Youth?).

Why are free radicals bad?   Well, put simply, they make you age.   They also damage tissue and might even cause some diseases.   Since these molecules are unstable, they look to bond with other molecules.   This destroys the other molecule’s health and creates a cycle of damage.   By drinking tea and eating food full of polyphenols and antioxidants, you might be slowing down your aging and helping your body in more ways than you can imagine!

However, the jury isn’t completely out on that thought yet.   According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Epidemological observations and laboratory studies have indicated that polyphenolic compounds present in tea may reduce the risk of a variety of illnesses, including cancer and coronary heart disease.”   Since most of the  findings have mostly been in lab animals, centers like the MD Anderson Cancer Center are collaborating with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to see how humans are affected by tea through clinical trials.

The study will see if tea polyphenols can be even more useful if they are combined with other items like certain foods and vitamin supplements.

So, while it is not yet scientifically proven that the polyphenols found in tea will have any direct benefit to the drinker, it does seem rather likely.   Even if there is no direct benefit, tea still tastes darn good!   The polyphenols are simply an added benefit.