Try This GI's 3-Second Trick To Find Out How Rich In Polyphenols Your Food Is

mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
A Gastroenterologist's 3-Second Trick To Tell How Polyphenol-Rich Food Is

Quick! What are the best polyphenol-rich foods? Chances are you tossed out some sort of berry: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, all of which have impressive amounts of the supercharged antioxidants. 

Yes, berries rank high on the list, but the amount of polyphenols isn't actually guaranteed in each bite. According to gastroenterologist Emeran Mayer, M.D., on the mindbodygreen podcast, your fruits and veggies might not have as much of the phytonutrient as you think. Not to fret: He has an easy trick to tell. 

How to find out how polyphenol-rich your food is.

What Mayer calls your "own personal testing mechanism." Translation? A simple taste test. 

Take a bite into any polyphenol-rich berry (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, what have you), and really savor it. Reflect on the first explosion of flavor, the aftertaste, and how concentrated it seems. If it tastes rich and sweet, it's likely brimming with polyphenols; if it's bland, perhaps less so.

The thing is, polyphenols are produced in the plant's root system—meaning, when the soil is stripped of its microbial life and pumped with pesticides, the plant's nutrient content suffers. Functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, M.D., agrees, as he once told us that broccoli was twice as nutritious 50 years ago when the soil was brimming with diverse microbial life. And it's those nutrient-dense fruits and veggies that actually provide the most intense, mouthwatering flavor.

That's why, Mayer explains, if the berries don't taste like, well, berries, "they probably have a low concentration of polyphenols." Take strawberries, for example: Have you ever eaten a tiny—yet intense!—organic strawberry and remember the rush of flavor? "Compare them to the big strawberries you find in the supermarket, and they have essentially no taste," Mayer says. "If you didn't see it, you wouldn't know it's a strawberry." 

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The takeaway. 

We've discussed at length how phytonutrients affect the flavor of your fruits and veggies: As a general rule, the more nutrients it has, the more intense it will taste. The bottom line? Flavor is so much more than an enjoyable eating experience. 

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