What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are natural plant-based chemicals found in healthy foods and even though they strictly come under the “flavonoid” group they are generally now used to describe any phytochemical which has potential health benefits. They were often referred to as anti-oxidants.

There are hundreds of different polyphenols known to mankind and here are many of the common ones below – our plant foods are diverse in the healthy plant chemicals they contain. It is clear from this list that foods with the highest polyphenol content include herbs, spices, teas, fruit, vegetables berries, prunes, flaxseed, linseeds, nuts, dark greens, cruciferous, brightly coloured vegetables, berries, fruits and grains and nuts.

Here are some examples of the more commonly recognised categories:

  • Beta-carotene (carrots, peaches, apricots, spinach and cantaloupe)
  • Cryptoxanthin (oranges, papaya, peaches and tangerines)
  • Lycopene (tomatoes, chilli, watermelon and pink grapefruit)
  • Lutein (Spinach kale, red pepper, okra
  • Zeaxanthin (corn, broccoli, spinach, red pepper, peas, kale,  celery)

Natural Monopherols:

  • Apiole (Parsley)
  • Carnosol (Rosemary)
  • Dillapiole (Dill)


  • Isothiocyanate and its metabolite sulforaphane (Broccoli)
  • Diallyl disulfide (Garlic)


  • Isolavone phyooestrogens, e.g. Daidzein, Genistein, Glycitein (Soy, peanuts, legums)
  • Flavonols e.g. Kaempferol (broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables)
  • Flavonol polymers e.g. Catechin (cocoa and chocolate)
  • Flavan-3-ols (epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – green tea)
  • Stilbenoids e.g resveratol (grapes and red wine)

Phenolic Acids:

  • Chlorogenic acid (coffee)
  • Ellagic acid (Pomegranate, raspberries and strawberries)
  • Benzoic acids (hydroxybenzoic acid, gallic acid)
  • Cinnamic acid (apples, wheat, articoke)
  • Salicylic acid (bark of Willow trees most fruit and veg)

Nonflavonoid phenolics

  • Curcumin – a root herb
  • Capsaisin – chilli
  • Piperine – pepper