Researchers have revealed a bit more insight into how polyphenols help keep us healthy. The compounds can be found in fruits and vegetables (and dark chocolate and red wine!). Turns out they foil unhealthy signaling from a molecule, kind of like kicking out the bulb on a car’s turn signal.
Scientists from the Institute of Food Research showed that polyphenols in green tea and apples block a signaling molecule called VEGF. That molecule can trigger the growth of the nasty plaque that can coat arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes. It also promotes the growth of cancer cells and is the target for some cancer-fighting drugs, according to Medicalxpress.com.
The researchers used cells derived from human blood vessels and polyphenols from green tea and apples in their study. They found that low concentrations of the polyphenols stopped the VEGF molecules from signaling. This study provides the first evidence that polyphenols can directly interact with VEGF to block signals at the levels you would see in the blood stream after eating polyphenol-rich foods.
"If this effect happens in the body as well, it provides very strong evidence for a mechanism that links dietary polyphenols and beneficial health effects," Dr. Paul Kroon, Research Leader at IFR told Medicalxpress.com.
The research appears in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Polyphenols also reduce the period of weakened immunity that normally follows intense exercise, according to another recent study.