Rogue nutritionist reveals the three most exciting nutrients for 2014 and how to select them

Board-certified nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden spends a lot of time among health researchers and related experts. “I have met many who are skeptical of every dietary supplement on the market. But their eyes light up when they hear one word: Polyphenols. These are powerful compounds found in plants that have all sorts of health benefits from reducing inflammation to having anti-cancer properties. There’s no downside to them.” Here’s even better news. Bowden says you only have to remember three things related to polyphenols: Green tea, dark chocolate and pomegranate juice.

“I came home from a symposium not too long ago, and told everyone in my family: “Drink three cups of green tea, eat one square of dark chocolate and drink one glass of pomegranate juice a day. That’s the easiest prescription in the world. These three foods in particular are simply loaded with polyphenols as well as with other healthy nutrients,” says Bowden. “But you need to be choosy. If you introduce something into your diet for your health, you don’t also want to be introducing toxins into your body.”

Green tea
“Green tea is probably the most researched of these three super foods. It contains EGCG, which has about 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E. EGCG helps slow the aging process. Green tea has even been shown to help people lose weight.

“But here’s what you should know. Tea, like all plants, can absorb what’s in the environment. It can be contaminated by toxins in the soil and air, and also by chemicals used in the extraction process to make green tea supplements. Keep in mind that green tea is grown in China and other Asian countries where dozens of pesticides are used. Often, these pesticides are actually legal in the growing country, however, they are not allowed here in the U.S. where we have much stricter guidelines. Unfortunately, this is even true of certified organic tea, which often is indirectly contaminated with pesticides. However, this polyphenol is just too important to ignore, especially when there are excellent choices available if you only know where to look.

“Most of us are too busy to brew three cups of green tea every day. So here’s what you do. Look for a supplement called Sunphenon. It’s the one that’s clean, safe, effective and compliant. Sunphenon is the first and only green tea to date to receive the new global certification for food safety. It’s made from pesticide controlled green tea leaves, specifically to meet the U.S. guidelines. It is then extracted with water (just like brewing tea), and for the higher concentrations further decaffeinated using only FDA-approved methods, never with chloroform or other illegal solvents that unfortunately are another common concern with botanical extracts. You may pay more for it, but it’s worth it.”

Dark chocolate
“Dark chocolate is really good for your heart. It helps to lower the most inflammatory type of cholesterol while raising the best kind of cholesterol. Even small amounts of dark chocolate may also help to lower your blood pressure. And it may keep your blood vessels pliable. So it’s great for your entire cardiovascular system.” Bowden says to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cocoa. “And stick with just the chocolate. Don’t get tempted to eat dark chocolate-covered candy bars. The extra calories and trans fats can easily cancel out the health benefits.”

Pomegranate juice
“Pomegranates also help to lower inflammation and blood pressure. They are loaded with vitamins that can help boost the immune system, and they are being studied for their ability to improve symptoms of depression. That’s powerful!

“Pomegranate juice is really popular, and it’s delicious. Just make sure you drink the unsweetened kind. You don’t want to spike your blood sugar, which can create an inflammatory response and may even play havoc with your energy levels.”

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