The awesome polyphenols

Nutrition that heals. Part 1

If you truly want to nourish your body deeply while avoiding what may well disrupt your digestion and cause you to have a greater influx of toxins, you would maximize “polyphenols” and minimize “lectins” in your diet. At least this is as per the extensive research Dr Gundry, cardiovascular surgeon has come up with over the last few years.

You may ask: What are polyphenols and what are lectins, and why bother to know?

Here are some explanations. In essence, polyphenols are compounds that have very high antioxidant potential and keep our bodies well-nourished and cleared of toxins, whereas lectins are proteins on the surface of many foods that are part of nature’s self-defense mechanism. They have mild toxicity in themselves and also can promote “leaky gut” a condition in which the intestines become less selective in what they absorb and thus allow more toxins into the body.

Some foods contain both and thus should be avoided. Below is a list of what to consume and what to heed.

What are polyphenols?

From “”

Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get through certain plant-based foods. They’re packed with antioxidants and potential health benefits. It’s thought that polyphenols can improve or help treat digestion issues, weight management difficulties, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

You can get polyphenols by eating foods containing them. You can also take supplements, which come in powder and capsule forms.

Polyphenols may have several unwanted side effects, however. These are most common when taking polyphenol supplements instead of getting them naturally through food. The most common side effect with the strongest scientific evidence is the potential for polyphenols to interfere with or limit iron absorption.

Factors that influence activity of polyphenols in the body include metabolism, intestinal absorption, and the bioavailability of the polyphenol. Although some foods may have higher polyphenol levels than others, this does not necessarily mean that they are absorbed and used at higher rates.

Read on to learn the polyphenol content of many foods. Unless otherwise stated, all numbers are given in milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g) of food.

BENEFICIAL/no lectin involved

  1. Vegetables

There are many vegetables that contain polyphenols, though they usually have less than fruit. Vegetables with high numbers of polyphenols include:

  • artichokes, with 260 mg polyphenols
  • chicory, with 166–235 mg polyphenols
  • red onions, with 168 mg polyphenols, leeks…
  • spinach, with 119 mg polyphenols, also all other leafy greans and cruciferous begetables, such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli

definitely recommended!

  1. Nuts

Nuts can be high in caloric value, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch. Not only are they full of protein; some nuts also have high polyphenol content.

One 2012 study found significant levels of polyphenols in a number of both raw and roasted nuts. Nuts high in polyphenols include:

  • hazelnuts, with 495 mg polyphenols – good
  • walnuts, with 28 mg polyphenols – good
  • almonds, with 187 mg polyphenols – not recommended
  • pecans, with 493 mg polyphenols
  1. Cloves and other seasonings

In a 2010 study that identified the 100 foods richest in polyphenols, cloves came out on top. Cloves had a total of 15,188 mg polyphenols per 100 g of cloves. There were a number of other seasonings with high rankings, too. These included dried peppermint, which ranked second with 11,960 mg polyphenols, and star anise, which came in third with 5,460 mg.

  1. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate

Cocoa powder was the fourth richest polyphenol food identified, with 3,448 mg polyphenols per 100 g of the powder. It’s not a surprise that dark chocolate fell close behind on the list and was ranked eighth with 1,664 mg.

  1. Black and green tea

Want to shake it up? In addition to high-fiber fruits, nuts, and vegetables, black and green teas both contain ample amounts of polyphenols. Black tea clocks in with 102 mg polyphenols per 100 milliliters (mL), and green tea has 89 mg.


  1. Red wine

Many people drink a glass of red wine every night for the antioxidants. The high number of polyphenolsin red wine contributes to that antioxidant count. Red wine has a total of 101 mg polyphenols per 100 mL. Rosé and white wine, while not as beneficial, still have a decent chunk of polyphenols, with 100 mL of each having

  1. Berries

A number of different types of berries are rich in polyphenols. These include popular and easily accessible berries like:

  • highbush blueberries, with 560 mg polyphenols
  • blackberries, with 260 mg polyphenols
  • strawberries, with 235 mg polyphenols
  • red raspberries, with 215 mg polyphenols

The berry with the most polyphenols? Black chokeberry, which has more than 1,700 mg polyphenols per 100 g.

Because they are fruit, there is some issue with lectins, so consume in moderation.

  1. Non-berry fruits

Berries aren’t the only fruits with plenty of polyphenols. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a large number of fruits contain high numbers of polyphenols. These include:

  • black currants, with 758 mg polyphenols
  • plums, with 377 mg polyphenols
  • sweet cherries, with 274 mg polyphenols
  • apples, with 136 mg polyphenols

Because they are fruit, there is some issue with lectins, so consume in moderation

Fruit juices = not recommended by Dr Gundry


  1. Beans – not recommended by Dr Gundry

10. Soy – definitely NOT recommended except in fermented form: miso and tempeh

Soy, in all its various forms and stages, contains large numbers of this valuable micronutrient. These forms include

Learn more about LECTINS


by Angela Ingendaay, M.D.