What causes us to age? We often think of aging as the things we lose or that decline or decay over time, such as wrinkles, graying hair, less muscle mass, less energy, and decreased libido. So, is aging inevitable?
Scientists theorize that aging is accumulated wear and tear from toxins, free-radical damage, chronic inflammation, declining hormone levels, DNA-damaging radiation, disease, and stress. The thinking is that eventually, our bodies wear out and can’t fight back.
Contrast this with a theory offered by Dan Buettner in Blue Zones:
“Scientific studies suggest that genes dictate only about 25 percent of how long we live. The other 75 percent is determined by our lifestyles and the everyday choices we make. If we optimize our lifestyles, we can maximize our life expectancies within our biological limits.”
At what age should one start an anti-aging regimen? Skincare companies will tell you that skin begins to age in your twenties and that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Dan Buettner suggests that optimizing lifestyle choices, particularly diet and exercise, should start as early as possible.
In this “Best of” review, we will address two of the primary causes of aging, free radical damage and chronic low-level inflammation, and how certain plant foods and compounds are the best method to address these precursors to aging, illness, and eventually death. We will define and categorize polyphenols, reviewing the most prevalent polyphenol compounds and their source. We will detail the benefits of these compounds with a focus on antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, cite clinical studies regarding the efficacy of polyphenols, and provide our picks for the best polyphenol products on the market.
If you prefer to see our top rated polyphenol supplements right away, feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this post. That said, we think it can be helpful to better understand how polyphenols work and may benefit you before buying a supplement.
Polyphenols – Defined
Polyphenols are nutrients naturally found in plant foods, responsible for their health-promoting properties. Examples include berries, vegetables, spices, coffee and tea, herbs, and dark chocolate. The more colorful the plant – the higher the polyphenol content. Polyphenols protect plants against the sun’s radiation and help defend them against disease.
Foods rich in polyphenols and polyphenol compounds protect us similarly, acting as antioxidants and helping combat inflammation, among other essential benefits.
Most people fall well short of the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables in our diets. Only one in ten adults achieve the recommended intake of five servings per day. This gap has created a robust market for supplementing with polyphenols.
Types Of Polyphenols
There are more than 8,000 types of polyphenols which can be further categorized into four main groups:
Flavonoids are the largest group of phytonutrients, with more than 6,000 types, found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids and carotenoids are responsible for the vivid colors in fruits and vegetables. In supplementation, quercetin from green vegetables, apples, or onions is the most popular compound.
Phenolic acids are a phytochemical found in the seeds, skins of fruits, and leaves of vegetables. Green tea and caffeine are two of the more recognizable compounds in this group.
This category includes the capsaicinoids found in chili peppers and the powerful antioxidant avenanthramides found only in oats. The compound capsaicin is frequently used in weight loss supplements and is thought to have benefits in increasing metabolism by burning fats.
Many of the remaining polyphenols are popular in supplementation, including resveratrol from red wine, curcumin and turmeric, and the lignans in flax seeds, sesame seeds, and whole grains.
The Best Kinds Of Polyphenol Supplements
The best polyphenol supplements include compounds from superfoods, often combined with other ingredients, depending on the consumer’s health concerns or goals. Many products will include pre and probiotics, or thermogenic blends for weight loss, and almost always focus on antioxidant or anti-inflammatory properties.
Antioxidant Polyphenols To Address Free Radical Damage
In 1956 Denham Harman, a Cal Berkley Ph.D. theorized that free radicals were a primary contributor to aging and death, the “free radical theory of aging.” Generations of scientists have followed in Harman’s path, exploring the role of free radicals in aging and disease and the effectiveness of antioxidants to forestall both. We have since learned that free radical damage is a chief contributor to the most common diseases of aging, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even arthritis.
Some of the most potent antioxidant polyphenols used in the natural products space include green tea extract, CoQ 10, resveratrol, quercetin, cocoa beans, pomegranate, and caffeine.
Polyphenols With Potent Anti-Inflammatory Properties
There are two types of inflammation, acute inflammation, and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation happens when you experience swelling, as with inflamed joints, arthritis, or infection. Chronic inflammation is more severe and more deadly.
The insidious thing about chronic, low-level inflammation is that it so often has no symptoms or signs; plaque in arteries, bacteria, or cells dividing uncontrollably as in cancer. Some experts believe that if we could eliminate chronic inflammation, we could slash the chance of heart disease and cancer by 50%.
Research on the dangers of systemic inflammation indicates it is a much more significant factor in the diseases of aging than most people, or even their doctors realize. It now appears to be a primary risk factor for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. Understanding and controlling systemic inflammation is critical to disease prevention and life extension.
Some of the polyphenol compounds with the most potent anti-inflammatory properties include quercetin, rutin, morin, hesperetin, and hesperidin.
Key Ingredients In Polyphenol Supplements
At the risk of being perhaps a bit too scientific, we include the below chart that identifies the polyphenol family, examples of compounds, and their dietary source to help understand the compounds frequently used in nutritional supplements.
Clinical Studies Of Polyphenol Supplementation
Per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, clinical studies on fruit-derived polyphenols’ effect on athletic performance indicate they may enhance endurance and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.
“Fruit-derived polyphenols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can enhance exercise performance, since excess reactive oxygen species generation has been implicated in fatigue development, and enhance recovery from intensive exercise due to the involvement of inflammation and oxidative damage within muscle.”
Polyphenol Supplement Benefits
Polyphenols have been indicated as providing a variety of health benefits:
- Reduced Inflammation
- Enhanced Metabolism
- Increased Energy
- Promotes Tissue Repair
- Weight Management
- Healthier Skin
- Gut Health
- Blood Sugar Support
- Eye, Brain, and Heart Health
Additionally, polyphenols are linked to:
- Lower blood sugar levels – reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart disease – due to antioxidants and reduced chronic inflammation
- Protection against cancer – again due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Promotes healthy digestion – polyphenols may help probiotics thrive and survive
- Improved cognition – polyphenol-rich foods may boost your focus and memory; cocoa flavonols may improve blood flow to the brain
Forms Of Polyphenol Supplements
These supplements come in a myriad of forms from powdered mixes, to tablets and capsules, and gummies. How and when you use the products will vary by brand and method of delivery.
Will A Polyphenol Supplement Work For Me?
Just a quick review of the attributes of polyphenol supplements leads us to a resounding, yes! Understanding the dangers of free radical damage and chronic inflammation alone is sufficient reason to endorse these powerhouse polyphenols. Add to that the fact that diet alone does not achieve the recommended daily intake, plus the NCBI’s documented and published clinical trial evidence – we endorse the use of polyphenol supplements.
That said, we caution the prudent use of these supplements as the higher quantity of polyphenols in some supplements may exceed recommended doses.
Are Polyphenol Supplements Safe?
No doubt, polyphenol-rich foods are safe for most people. Some polyphenol supplements can interact with medications or nutrient absorption. They may reduce your body’s ability to absorb other essential elements.
When considering adding a new supplement to your regimen, talk to your doctor first, particularly if you have a diagnosed nutrient deficiency or are on prescription medicines.
Polyphenol Supplement Alternatives
Although most people don’t take in sufficient polyphenols through diet alone, there are foods you can choose to improve your antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the best-known sources are:
- Dark Leafy Vegetables
- Green tea
Although these are some of the best-known sources, many other foods offer significant amounts of these compounds, some delightful such as red wine and dark chocolate.
Other supplements high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories would be Vitamin C, A, and E. beta-carotene, and Astaxanthin.
Best Polyphenol Supplements
When picking the best polyphenol supplements, we adhered to the following criteria:
- We ensured the products are manufactured in the U.S. in a certified cGMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices)
- We looked for companies and brands that have independent third-party testing such as NSF, Informed Choice, or Safe for Sport certifications
- Having a Money-Back Guarantee was important to us as it indicates the manufacturer’s confidence in its product
- Whenever possible, we opted for natural, organic ingredients
Vital Reds, from Gundry MD
Our first selection comes from Gundry MD, founded by Dr. Steven Gundry. Dr. Gundry was a world-renown cardiologist before founding his Center for Restorative Medicine in Loma Linda, CA. He has spent the past twenty years studying the human microbiome, and today is one of the industry’s pre-eminent experts on polyphenols and digestive health.
Vital Reds contains a science-backed formula consisting of three different blends. There is a Reds Blend of 34 polyphenol-rich superfruits, plus a metabolic blend for natural fat-burning ingredients, and a digestive blend of probiotics. Gundry tells us that Vital Reds will maintain higher energy levels, better digestion, and healthier-looking skin.
The company website lists the single jar at $69.95. They also offer a three-pack at $199.36 ($66.45/unit) and six-pack at $377.73 ($62.95/unit). The Gundry VIP program offers savings of up to 60% off retail with a subscription.GET UP TO 46% OFF VITAL REDS
Polyphenomenal 2.0 Complex Cell Protection, from Bulletproof
From the makers of Bulletproof Coffee, Bulletproof Collagen Protein, and Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil comes Bulletproof Polyphenomenal. Polyphenomenal delivers antioxidants from a broad-spectrum polyphenol-rich blend of berries and botanicals, including pomegranate, turmeric, and green tea to help fight free radicals and support healthy aging. The company uses several trademarked, proprietary ingredients such as Pomella FG (pomegranate), Longvida SD (turmeric), and Aurora Blue (organic wild blueberry blend).
A 120-count bottle, a thirty-day supply, is $39.95 on the company website. The company also offers special pricing for subscription orders. The product retails for the same price on Amazon.com.GET THE BEST PRICE ON POLYPHENOMENAL 2.0 COMPLEX CELL PROTECTION
Resveratrol 1450, from Purely Beneficial
A Resveratrol and Polyphenol Blend made with Trans-Resveratrol, Green Tea Extract, Grape Seed Extract, Vitamin C, Acai Extract, Pomegranate Extract, Blueberry Extract, and more. NCBI tells us that Trans-Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol, possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and antioxidant properties, which may be harnessed in strategies against chronic diseases.
In keeping with our philosophies, the product contains no fillers, artificial ingredients, or harmful preservatives. All Purely Beneficial products are made in the USA in an FDA inspected cGMP facility, and the company backs the product with a 100% Money Back Guarantee.
A forty-five-day supply, ninety capsules, sells for $24.99 on the company website.GET THE BEST PRICE ON RSVERATROL
Energy Renew, from Gundry MD
Energy Renew is a powdered dietary supplement formulated with three primary ingredients and a proprietary blend of Polyphenols designed to support muscle recovery and cardiovascular health. There is one flavor available, Passion Fruit. Each jar delivers thirty servings of seven-gram scoops. Gundry recommends you mix one scoop with ten ounces of water daily for best results.
On Amazon, the product costs $68.97 for a single jar. The company website, GundryMD.com, lists a thirty-serving jar, 7.36 oz. at $74.95. They also offer a three-pack at $200.85 ($66.95/unit) and six-pack at $377.70 ($62.95/unit).SAVE UP TO 43% ON ENERGY RENEW
Stacking Polyphenol Supplements
The most popular stacks for polyphenol products would be pre and probiotics and perhaps a product to support the gut lining. Depending on your goals and objectives, there are many other supplements you might use in conjunction with polyphenol products such as protein shakes, bars, joint products, nootropics, and thermogenics, etc.
To Summarize: Best Polyphenol Supplements
Many of our favorite compounds in the nutritional supplement industry are polyphenols, such as quercetin, CoQ 10, resveratrol, green tea extract, and turmeric. This category has been the subject of extensive clinical trials that support the efficacy of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Any of the products or ingredients discussed in this review that aid in the defense against free radical damage, chronic inflammation, and aging is a worthy addition to your supplement regimen.