Due to their potency, phenolics have long been regarded the holy grail of antioxidants. Technically, phenolics are a group of phytochemicals that demonstrate antioxidant activity as well as anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory activity. Antioxidant activity is the ability of compounds to protect against oxidative agents, such as free radicals. Phenolic antioxidants are studied for their advantages over other antioxidant types and their potentially significantly greater benefits for human health.
Studies show that phenolic antioxidant compounds can reduce cellular damage, and may be effective at protecting against a plethora of diseases linked to oxidative events, such as cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, cancers and diabetes.
Phenolics are powerful free radical ‘scavengers’ due to the number of hydroxyl groups in their chemical structures; the number of hydroxyl groups corresponds to a compound’s ability to neutralise free radicals. More importantly, the number of hydroxyl groups contribute to the stability of the phenolic antioxidants so they don’t become unsafe in the human body, even after neutralising free radicals. Other antioxidants, such as vitamin C, have fewer hydroxyl groups and can become unstable after collecting a free radical—this is known as pro-oxidation and can do more harm than good.
Over the last few decades, antioxidants in food and supplements have emerged as a focus for maintaining and improving human health. Some research and healthy-eating commentators have attacked antioxidant supplements, as we know them, due to the pro-oxidation risk. This criticism is substantiated by trials. One such trial, which started in 1994, found that daily doses of the antioxidant beta-carotene significantly elevated the risk of lung cancer in male smokers by 18 percent. In 2011, a trial involving more than 35,000 men over 50 found large doses of another common antioxidant—vitamin E—increased the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent.
Phenolic antioxidants resolve the risks borne out in the studies. However, until recently, phenolic antioxidant compounds were not available with sufficient levels of bioavailability in the body.
A new breed of all-natural dietary phenolics is emerging, accessed with a breakthrough technology using water to extract and activate the phenolic antioxidants. This technology gives the phenolic antioxidants the synergy, absorbability and bioavailability that are the keys in achieving therapeutic effects in a biological system—something common antioxidants cannot offer.
Phenolic antioxidants, when extracted in the right way and from the right fruits, deliver a true broad spectrum of antioxidants which all work in synergy as well as with the human body’s indigenous antioxidant system.
It is time for commentators to update their understanding of antioxidants. It is time to acknowledge that common antioxidant supplements are made either synthetically in a lab or extracted from natural foods using chemicals (methanol, acetone or ethanol), making them very difficult to break down and absorb. It is time to understand that phenolic antioxidants, when properly extracted and activated, work synergistically with the body to deliver real results.