Polyphenols are a group of phytonutrients characterised by their phenol ring structure. This structure makes them chemically useful antioxidants as the hydroxyl groups are able to donate electrons, becoming oxidised in the process, but the unpaired electronic structure does not take part in chain reactions because the unpaired electrons are delocalised around the entire ring structure, stabilising the molecule. The antioxidant capacity of polyphenols may explain their anti-inflammatory effects as oxidation can lead to inflammation. As mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are characterised by oxidation and inflammation in the tissues of the brain, it is unsurprising that polyphenols may elevate mood. Studies indicate that high polyphenol diets are protective of mood disorders and may significantly lower depression in humans subjects. Foods that contain polyphenols such as fruits, vegetables, tea and wine are therefore recommended in order to maintain a positive mental health.
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