Cloves offer many health benefits, some of which include providing aid in digestion, having antimicrobial properties, fighting against cancer, protecting the liver, boosting the immune system, controlling diabetes, preserving bone quality, and containing anti-mutagenic properties, as well as fighting against oral diseases and headaches, while displaying aphrodisiac properties as well.
Richest Dietary Source of Polyphenols and Antioxident
Polyphenols are plant chemicals that may have health benefits for people. Polyphenols are phytochemicals, meaning compounds found abundantly in natural plant food sources that have antioxidant properties. There are over 8,000 identified polyphenols found in foods such as spices, tea, wine, chocolates, fruits, vegetables, and extra virgin olive oil, just to name a few. Polyphenols appear to have a prebiotic effect by improving the nutrition of beneficial bacteria living in your gut.
Polyphenol and antioxidant content in the 5 richest foods (mg per 100 g or mg per 100 ml)
|Food||Food group||Polyphenols a||Polyphenols AE a||Antioxidants b|
|Cloves||Seasonings||15 188||1||15 188||1||16 047||1|
|Peppermint, dried||Seasonings||11 960||2||7920||2||980||26|
|Cocoa powder||Cocoa products||3448||4||3294||4||1104||24|
|Mexican oregano, dried||Seasonings||2319||5||2137||5||—||—|
Cloves are one of the spices indigenous to Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and even areas of East Africa. It is native to the Maluku islands in Indonesia. Cloves are a popular flavouring agents used in a variety of ways across the world, particularly in Asia. Cloves form the culinary base in a number of different Asian cuisines.
Clove, just like many other spices originating in Asia, has a great history behind it. During the 13th and 14th centuries, cloves were transported all the way from Indonesia to China, India, Persia, Africa, and Europe. During this time, cloves had a very high price, thus wars for monopoly over clove production and distribution began. Many wars were waged in order to control the islands of Maluku during both the medieval and modern period. The Dutch emerged victorious and held the Maluku islands for a very long time. Today, clove is a very important commercial crop all around the world.
Scientific Facts About Clove
Clove, as we know it, is the dried bud of the flower from the tree Syzygium aromaticum. It belongs to the plant family named Myrtaceae. The plant is an evergreen plant growing in tropical and subtropical conditions. Clove is an herb and people use various parts of the plant, including the dried bud, stems, and leaves to make medicine. Clove oil is also famous for its medicinal properties.
Clove has been used for thousands of years in India and China, not only as a spice and condiment, but also as a medicine for many ailments. Ayurvedic medicing used cloves for tooth decay, halitosis, and bad breath. In Chinese medicine, clove was considered to possess aphrodisiac properties.
Nutritional Value of Cloves
According to the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the nutrients found in 100 grams of cloves include 65g of carbohydrate, 6g of protein, 13g of total lipids, 2g of sugars, 274 kcal of energy and 33g of dietary fiber. Minerals in cloves include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and zinc. The vitamins found in cloves include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and vitamin K.
Bioactive Substances in Cloves
Certain bioactive compounds have been isolated from clove extracts. Some of them include: flavonoids, hexane, methylene chloride, ethanol, thymol, eugenol, and benzene. These biochemicals have been reported to possess various properties, including antioxidant, hepato-protective, anti-microbia, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Health Benefits of Cloves
Better Digestion: Cloves improve digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Cloves are also good for reducing flatulence, gastric irritability, dyspepsia and nausea. Cloves can be roasted, powdered, and taken with honey for relief in digestive disorders.
Antibacterial Properties: Cloves have been tested for their antibacterial properties against a number of human pathogens. The extracts of cloves were potent enough to kill those pathogens. Clove extracts are also effective against the specific bacteria that spreads cholera.
Chemo-Preventive Properties: Cloves are of interest to the medical community due to their chemo-preventive or anti-carcinogenic properties. Tests have showed that cloves are helpful in controlling lung cancer in its early stages.
Liver Protection: Cloves contain high amounts of antioxidants, which are ideal for protecting the organs from the effects of free radicals, especially the liver. Metabolism, in the long run, increases free radical production and lipid profile, while decreasing the antioxidants in the liver. Clove extracts are helpful in counteracting those effects with its hepatoprotective properties.
Diabetes Control: Cloves have been used in many traditional remedies for a number of diseases. One such disease is diabetes. In patients suffering from diabetes, the amount of insulin produced by the body is not sufficient or insulin is not produced at all. Studies have revealed that extracts from cloves imitate insulin in certain ways and help in controlling blood sugar levels.
Bone Preservation: The hydro-alcoholic extracts of cloves include phenolic compounds such as eugenol and its derivatives, such as flavones, isoflavones and flavonoids. These extracts have been particularly helpful in preserving bone density and the mineral content of bone, as well as increasing tensile strength of bones in cases of osteoporosis.
Anti-Mutagenic Properties: Mutagens are those chemicals that change the genetic makeup of the DNA by causing mutations. Biochemical compounds found in cloves, like phenylpropanoids, possess anti-mutagenic properties. These were administered on cells treated with mutagens and they were able to control the mutagenic effects to a significant rate.
Boosts the Immune System: Ayurveda describes certain plants to be effective in developing and protecting the immune system. One such plant is clove. The dried flower bud of clove contains compounds that help in improving the immune system by increasing the white blood cell count, thereby improving delayed type hypersensitivity.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Cloves possess anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. Studies on clove extracts being administered in lab rats suggest that the presence of eugenol reduced the inflammation caused by edema. It was also confirmed that eugenol has the ability to reduce pain by stimulating pain receptors.
Cure for Oral Diseases: Cloves can be taken for gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Clove bud extracts significantly controlled the growth of oral pathogens, which are responsible for various oral diseases. Cloves can also be used for toothaches due to their pain-killing properties.
Aphrodisiac Properties: Spices such as clove and nutmeg have been said to possess aphrodisiac properties, according to Unani medicine. Experiments on clove and nutmeg extracts were tested against standard drugs administered for that reason and both clove and nutmeg showed positive results.
Cure for Headaches: Headaches can be reduced by using cloves. Make a paste of a few cloves and mix it with a dash of rock salt. Add this to a glass of milk. This mixture reduces headaches quickly and effectively.
Side Effects of Using Clove
Clove Oil: Clove oils must not be used directly; instead they must be diluted either in olive oil or in distilled water. Clove extract oil is generally considered to be safe, but certain studies have revealed that they possess cytotoxic properties. There are two major components present in clove extract oil, eugenol and B-caryophyllene. These compounds were particularly effective against fibroblasts and endothelial cells.
Clove Cigarettes: In Indonesia, cloves are consumed on a large scale in the form of cigarettes, popularly known as kreteks. These clove cigarettes have emerged as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, but research shows that clove cigarettes are actually worse than conventional cigarettes. In the case of clove cigarettes, the amount of nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar entering into the lungs were higher than from tobacco cigarettes.
10 Low-Carb Foods That Are High in Polyphenols and Antioxidants
Michael Joseph, MSc –
September 6, 2016
Heart drinking coffee – Low Carb Foods With Antioxidants and Polyphenols Header Image Polyphenols are the most widely consumed antioxidants in our diet and have great importance to human health.
Based on the latest science, there is strong support for polyphenols contributing to the
prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and dementia.
This article will take a look at some low-carb foods that are high in polyphenols.
What Are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are an antioxidant found in many plants.
We can find them in foods or drinks that came from a plant source.
You can often hear the merits of red wine, dark chocolate, and various berries discussed in the media because they are polyphenol-rich foods.
Foods high in polyphenols can help protect the body against oxidative stress; a process that is believed to be central to the development of age-related disease.
All plant foods contain these compounds in varying amounts – from berries to grains and honey.
However, this article will concentrate on low carb sources of polyphenols.
What Are Antioxidants?
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant, compounds which directly help protect our cells from oxidation.
Factors such as chronic inflammation due to poor lifestyle, diet, lack of sleep, and smoking all influence our health.
As a result, free radicals form which can attack our healthy cells and cause damage to our DNA.
This process is otherwise known as oxidative stress – something with close links to the development of various cancers and cardiovascular heart disease.
Hence antioxidants are vital. They strengthen our immune defenses and can delay or inhibit oxidative damage.
Let’s now take a look at 10 of the best sources of polyphenols.
Low-Carb Foods That Are High in Polyphenols
First of all, I have selected these foods from a variety of different groups.
Therefore you will see fruits, nuts, other healthy snack foods and some drinks.
1. BlackcurrantsLow carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – blackcurrants
One of the most antioxidant-rich foods is the blackcurrant.
Blackcurrants contain an enormous amount of polyphenols and have extensive studies showing their potential use as a therapeutic food.
In a 2014 study, a double-blind, randomized controlled trial tested the impact of blackcurrant supplementation versus a placebo.
The result was that compared to the placebo group, the blackcurrant group had decreased biomarkers of oxidative stress and improved vascular health.
Most noteworthy for blackcurrants is their vitamin C content. They contain well over 300% of the recommended daily amount per cup.
Blackcurrants are also a low-carb food, with one of the lowest carbohydrate contents among fruits.
An excellent way to get some blackcurrants into your diet would be a low-carb blackcurrant smoothie. Ketodietapp has a great looking one here.
2. CinnamonLow carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – cinnamon
Cinnamon is one of the richest foods in polyphenols.
As a spice, people usually use cinnamon to add flavor to food. Some famous foods that use cinnamon are of course pumpkin pie and mulled wine.
Cinnamon has a great deal of documented health benefits.
Particularly relevant is a meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials published in 2013. This study showed that cinnamon had the following “statistically significant” benefits:
Decreased fasting plasma glucose
Reduced triglyceride levels
Increased HDL-C levels and reduced LDL.
Therefore it’s probably a good idea to include this tasty spice in our diets.
One way I love to use cinnamon is in coffee. A homemade ‘latte’ using coffee, heavy cream, vanilla extract and cinnamon tastes great.
3. Dark ChocolateLow carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. It’s also one of the best sources of antioxidants.
First of all, let’s clearly separate between good chocolate and junk chocolate.
To get health benefits from chocolate, you should be eating at least 70% cacao bars – but preferably 85% or higher. These higher cacao percentage bars are low in sugar and high in nutrients.
As polyphenols and their health impacts have become more known, dark chocolate has become one of the most studied foods we have.
The data from this research is very impressive too.
One randomized study showed that dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something, and suppresses energy intake. These results were the opposite of milk chocolate.
Another study – a meta-analysis of randomized trials – found that dark chocolate (or cocoa) had consistent acute and chronic benefits on blood flow and blood pressure. Additionally, it also had previously unreported benefits on insulin levels.
Dark chocolate has an overall impressive nutrient profile, containing high amounts of most minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – coffee
Another significant source of polyphenols is coffee. In fact, coffee is believed to be the biggest provider of antioxidants in the American diet today.
Due to the caffeine, many people love coffee for an energy boost in the morning too – myself included!
Previously demonized due to a suspected role in cancer, coffee was finally removed from the World Health Organization’s list of potential carcinogens in June of 2016.
As for coffee and health; well, the list of potential benefits are just growing and growing.
Coffee has a somewhat controversial status concerning cardiovascular health. Since caffeine can raise blood pressure, some have theorized coffee may have cardiovascular risks.
A 2015 randomized placebo-controlled trial sought to address these concerns. A total of 75 participants had their health markers checked 1 hour after coffee consumption, and 8 weeks after daily consumption.
The coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers showed the same results in blood lipids and vascular function. There were no differences between drinking coffee and not drinking coffee.
The only difference in results was that the coffee drinkers showed an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity, whereas the placebo group did not.
Published in April 2016, a comprehensive review of the benefits and risks of coffee considered the drink’s safety profile.
After examining all potential concerns, the authors concluded that “the benefits of coffee clearly outweigh the risks”.
Coffee is a great low-carb drink – just be careful not to drink sugar-sweetened versions!
5. Red Wine
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – red wine
Red wine is a drink universally praised for its supposed health benefits.
Firstly, red wine is very low in carbohydrate content, so it’s okay for a low-carb diet (providing you’re not drinking bottles of the stuff!)
Also, it makes a great combination with some aged cheese, prosciutto and a few pieces of dark chocolate.
But, it does contain alcohol. And alcohol is not good for us, right?
Actually, evidence shows that alcohol can play a role in a healthy lifestyle if consumed in moderation.
Furthermore, moderate consumption of alcohol is causational in raising HDL levels and lowering triglycerides. However, the opposite effect comes into play in individuals consuming substantial amounts of alcohol.
As a result, low to moderate consumption of alcohol may be better than either drinking regularly or not drinking at all.
Finally, red wine is one of the highest sources of polyphenols in the world. Consumption of these polyphenols may help prevent dementia, cancer, and heart problems.
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – nuts
Next up, nuts!
Pecans are nuts natively grown in Mexico and south-eastern areas of the United States.
They are very nutritious, containing beneficial micronutrients and are an especially good source of copper, manganese, zinc, and magnesium.
In addition, pecans are also a low-carb food. The carbohydrate content is only 4g (3g fiber) per ounce.
Particularly pertinent is their polyphenol content. In studies, these polyphenols exert antioxidant influences to positively impact lipid profiles.
Most of all, the antioxidants in pecans significantly increase the antioxidant capacity of our blood and help prevent LDL-oxidation in humans.
Lastly, I’m sure everyone loves pecan pie. So here is a delicious looking low-carb recipe for it.
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – blueberries
Another polyphenol-rich and (relatively) low-carb food is the blueberry.
Blueberries are one of the highest sources of antioxidants in our food and have some impressive data behind them.
Here are just four of them:
Blueberry polyphenols (known as anthocyanins) help protect against age-related cognitive impairment.
Blueberries decrease cardiovascular risk factors in obese people with metabolic syndrome.
A high intake of the polyphenols found in blueberries reduces heart attack risk in young women.
Berry anthocyanins seem to improve memory in the elderly. Blueberry supplementation led to better episodic memory, blood flow and visual ability.
One of the very best ways to eat blueberries is also one of the simplest; blueberries and heavy cream make for a great, tasty dessert. There are also various blueberry wines, which are generally higher in polyphenols than red wine.
8. Green Tea
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – green tea
Another drink full of polyphenols is green tea.
First originating in China thousands of years ago, green tea is now consumed around the world.
While green tea is very rich in polyphenols, it has almost no nutritional value. 100g contains approximately 1 calorie, and there are only minimal amounts of minerals present.
Results from a meta-analysis of 18 prospective cohort studies show green tea impacts on cardiovascular risk.
A dose-response analysis showed that one cup per day increases in green tea were associated with a 5% decreased CVD mortality.
Interestingly, green tea showed no positive impact on cancer risk in the study, but black tea did.
Perhaps some of the most impressive research behind green tea revolves around its neuroprotective benefits.
A range of well-controlled studies exist, showing how the polyphenols in green tea can positively impact – and alter – the brain-aging process.
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – blackberries
Also a polyphenol-rich berry, blackberries are one of the best choices of fruit for our health.
An interesting fact that you may or may not know about the blackberry is that one ‘berry’ is not technically one fruit.
Each so-called ‘berry’ actually contains anywhere from 50 to 100 small, rounded ‘drupelets’.
Blackberries contain a wealth of beneficial compounds. Like blueberries, they do not provide a significant amount of vitamins or minerals, but they are one of the biggest dietary sources of polyphenols.
Similar to blueberries, the anthocyanin class of polyphenols are found in blackberries.
Finally, if you’re looking for a tasty idea on how to eat blackberries, then I recommend combining with heavy cream.
However, if you’d like something a bit more exciting then here are a range of blackberry recipe ideas.
10. Black Tea
Low carb foods high in polyphenol antioxidants – black tea
Last but not least is black tea.
Black tea comes from the same variety of plant as green tea. Unlike popular opinion, they are not entirely different species.
The only differences come in the processing of the leaves.
Workers pick and dry green tea immediately. On the other hand, they wait for black tea leaves to ferment in the sun before drying.
Compared to green tea, black tea has a higher amount of some antioxidants (theaflavins) and a lower amount of others (catechins).
Both of these polyphenols have protective health benefits for our body.
Black tea has potential cancer-preventive effects in the body, though this needs further investigation.
Another study claims that clear, sufficient evidence shows reduced cardiovascular disease risk when drinking more than 3 cups of black tea per day.
Top 25 Riches Food Sources of Polyphenols (per serving)
- Black Elderberry
- Black Chokeberry
- Highbush blueberry
- Globe artichoke heads
- Coffee, filtered
- Lowbush Blueberry
- Sweet Cherry
- Red Raspberry
- Flaxseed Meal
- Dark Chocolate
- Black Tea
- Green Tea
- Pure Apple Juice
- Whole Grain Rye Bread
- red wine
- Soy Yogurt
- Cocoa Powder
- Pure Pomegranate Juice