Polyphenols in Nettle

Nettles (Urtica dioica) are a rich source of nutrients which may explain their medicinal effects. Nettles belong to the Urticaceae family and grow wild in a number of regions including Asia, Europe, North America and parts of Africa. The leaves, stem and roots can all be used medicinally, and the roots can be used as a food as they are rich in carbohydrate. Nettles contain a number of phytochemicals that confer significant antioxidant protection and some of these are vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A. However, nettles are also a good source of polyphenols which may be responsible for the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of the aerial parts of the plant. Studies have investigated the polyphenol concentrations of nettles and found that as with many plants, growing conditions greatly affect the concentrations within the tissues of the plant. The highest yield of polyphenols appear to be present in nettles just before the plant flowers, possibly because some of the polyphenols are used as pigments in the flowers. 

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Repajić, M., Cegledi, E., Zorić, Z., Pedisić, S., Elez Garofulić, I., Radman, S., Palcic, I. and Dragović-Uzelac, V. 2021. Bioactive Compounds in Wild Nettle (Urtica dioica L.) Leaves and Stalks: Polyphenols and Pigments upon Seasonal and Habitat Variations. 10(1): 190
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How Do Polyphenols Protect From Obesity?

Polyphenols may have a number of health effects that include protection from obesity. Polyphenols are not the only reason that the Mediterranean diet protects from obesity, but they may contribute to this effect. The Mediterranean diet is high in plant foods, particularly fruits, vegetables and herbs, and this provides a significant total amount, as well as a large variety of polyphenols. The polyphenols in the Mediterranean diet may decrease reactive oxygen species, and thus inhibit oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is particularly damaging and can cause obesity because it can trigger the release of nuclear factor kappa-beta, and this can initiate inflammation. Inflammation is implicated in obesity because it is thought that the generation of inflammation may be one of the triggers that initiates insulin resistance, one of the underlying characteristics of obesity. Eating high quality foods such as in the Mediterranean diet may therefore help prevent obesity through inhibition of the insulin resistance that causes it. 

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Nani, A., Murtaza, B., Sayed Khan, A., Khan, N. A. and Hichami, A. 2021. Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Potential of Polyphenols Contained in Mediterranean Diet in Obesity: Molecular Mechanisms. Molecules. 26(4)
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Polyphenols for Dylipidaemia

Plants synthesise polyphenols, and therefore diets rich in fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of polyphenols. The health benefits of polyphenols have been investigated with respect to their ability to prevent or reverse the dysfunctional elevation of lipid levels that occurs with insulin resistance and obesity. A number of studies have provided evidence that polyphenols in the diet may reverse elevated levels of blood lipids (dyslipidaemia). The benefits of polyphenols may increase over time and when taken in combination with a high quality diet containing other lipid lowering agents such as fibre and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The mechanisms by which polyphenols may be beneficial at reducing lipid levels may relate to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. As both inflammation and oxidative stress are implicated in the development of insulin resistance, obesity and dyslipidaemia, polyphenols may target the causative factor and this potentially act as therapeutic agents. 

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Feldman, F., Koudoufio, M., Desjardins, Y., Spahis, S., Delvin, E. and Levy, E. 2021. Efficacy of Polyphenols in the Management of Dyslipidemia: A Focus on Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 13(2): 672
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Polyphenols as Anti-Aging Agents

Polyphenols are a diverse group of phytochemicals characterised by multiple phenolic rings. Plants are rich in polyphenols and so diets high in fruits and vegetables, or herbs and spices, are high in polyphenols. Evidence suggests that polyphenols have significant health effects, perhaps on account of their anti-inflammatory or antioxidant effects. One health effect that has been speculated to occur through polyphenol consumption is a general anti-aging effect. A number of mechanisms have been proposed for this effect including antioxidant signaling, preventing cellular senescence, targeting microRNA, influencing nitric oxide bioavailability, and promoting mitochondrial function. Clearly polyphenols are not a panacea of youth, but the evidence is fairly strong that when polyphenols are consumed as part of a healthy diet, they may significantly contribute to an general improvement in health and a delay to the aging process. Consuming a range of different polyphenols may confer the best overall effects. 

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Luo, J., Si, H., Jia, Z. and Liu, D. 2021. Dietary Anti-Aging Polyphenols and Potential Mechanisms. Antioxidants. 10(2)
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Antioxidants in Himalayan Plants

Flavonoids and phenolic acids are polyphenols produced in plants as secondary metabolites. Within plant tissue they have important functions and help to protect the plants from environmental damage and pathogens. Consuming diets high in flavonoids and phenolic acid containing plants may improve the health of humans. The Himalayan region is a region rich in plants that have medicinal properties, and some of these medicinal effects may stem from the concentrated flavonoids and phenolic acids in these plants. However the overall health effects of the plants may vary considerably depending on the phytochemistry of the plants. For example Olea ferruginea has been shown to possess high levels of flavonoid and phenolic acids compared to other Himalayan species. However, Tilia europaea has been shown to possess significantly greater antioxidant effects. Therefore it is difficult to predict the antioxidant effects and therefore the medical usefulness of plants based on total antioxidant content alone.  

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Sharma, R. K., Sharma, N., Kumar, U. and Samant, S. S. 2021. Antioxidant properties, phenolics and flavonoids content of some economically important plants from North-west Indian Himalaya. Natural Product Research. 1-5
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Neuroprotective Effects of Olive Oil Terpenoids

Olive oil is a rich source of phytochemicals, many of which may confer beneficial health effects to humans. Nutritional studies initially concentrated on the fatty acid content of olive oil to explain its health effects, but more recently it has become apparent that it may be the phytochemicals within the olives that may be mostly responsible for these effects. One group of phytochemicals found within the olive that have been shown to be particularly beneficial are the terpenoids. Terpenoids are thought to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. Studies investigating the terpenoids in olives show that these effects are evident for monoterpenes (C10), sesquiterpenes (C15), diterpenes (C20), and triterpenes (C30). The terpenoids in olive may confer neuroprotective effects on humans and animals because of their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and may have significant effects on the overall health of the brain tissue, reducing the risk of anxiety and depression. 

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Suárez Montenegro, Z. J., Álvarez-Rivera, G., Sánchez-Martínez, J. D., Gallego, R., Valdés, A., Bueno, M., Cifuentes, A. and Ibáñez, E. (2021). Neuroprotective Effect of Terpenoids Recovered from Olive Oil By-Products. Foods. 10(7): 1507
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Rhizoma Drynariae as a Treatment for Osteoporosis

Rhizoma drynariae is the dry root tuber of the perennial fern Drynaria fortunei. Rhizoma drynariae is found in the Guangdong, Guangxi and Sichuan provinces in China. Evidence suggests that Rhizoma Drynariae may have significant medical effects, particularly on account of its ability to decrease oxidative stress. This suggests that the plant tissue is rich in antioxidants. One group of phytochemicals within Rhizoma Drynariae that may be useful in the treatment of osteoporosis are the flavonoids. Studies suggest that treatment of patients with osteoporosis with a combination of Rhizoma Drynariae and calcium, may significantly reduce the production of reactive oxygen species associated with osteoporosis. This can be measured clinically by increases in levels of certain antioxidant enzyme systems such as glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase. The main findings of the study however were that associated with these changes, there was a reduced loss of bone tissue. 

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Mu, P., Hu, Y., Ma, X., Shi, J., Zhong, Z. and Huang, L. 2021. Total flavonoids of Rhizoma Drynariae combined with calcium attenuate osteoporosis by reducing reactive oxygen species generation. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 21(6)
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Flavonoids for Inflammation

Flavonoids are a group of secondary metabolites synthesised by all plants. They accumulate in plant tissues and when the plants are consumed by animals and humans, the flavonoids enter the gut. Here they are metabolised extensively and there is good evidence that the metabolites are absorbed and are bioavailable. Diets high in fruit and vegetables are high in flavonoids and there is evidence such diets confer health effects. One health effect associated with high flavonoid diets is alleviation of the symptoms of arthritis, possibly through their anti-inflammatory effects. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce inflammation by targeting inflammasome activation which limits the cascade of inflammation in tissues. In arthritis this inflammation occurs mainly in the joints and evidence suggests that flavonoids may be beneficial in patients with inflammation in the joints characterised by this disease. The best way to take advantage of the beneficial effects of flavonoids is to eat a diet with a variety of plant foods within it. 

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Yi, Y. S. 2021. Flavonoids: Nutraceuticals for Rheumatic Diseases via Targeting of Inflammasome Activation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 22(2)
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Flavonoids in Sunflowers

Flavonoids are a subgroup of the polyphenols synthesised in plants as secondary metabolites. The main function of flavonoids in plants is to protect the tissues of the plants from environmental damage as well as tissue injury from predators. There are a large number of known flavonoids that have been identified from plants, and many are present in the diets of humans where they are consumed in edible plant material. Sunflowers, like all plants, synthesise flavonoids, and the researchers have identified a number of different flavonoids in parts of the sunflower plant. For example, the receptacles of sunflowers are known to possess the flavonoids isoquercetin and daidzein. Studies show that these flavonoids provide significant antioxidant protection to the receptacle of sunflowers although it is not known if this is their main function. Sunflowers are edible, and therefore should be considered a healthy food on account of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects conferred by flavonoids in their tissues. 

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Qiao, Z., Han, L., Liu, X., Dai, H., Liu, C., Yan, M., Wannan, Li., Han, W., Li, X., Huang, S. and Gao, B. 2021. Extraction, Radical Scavenging Activities, and Chemical Composition Identification of Flavonoids from Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) Receptacles. Molecules. 26: 403
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Should You Buy Close to Expiry Supplements?

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