You may be less likely to develop cancer, heart disease or neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease if your diet is rich in phytochemicals like catechins, says the Linus Pauling Institute. Catechins belong to a category of compounds known as flavanols and are found only in foods and drinks derived from plants. While there is no recommended daily allowance set for catechins and other phytochemicals, eating a wide variety of colorful plant-based foods daily can help you reap the health benefits.
Stock Up on Blackberries
Blackberries contain 37 milligrams of catechins in every 100 grams of the fruit. A 1-cup serving of blackberries -- equivalent to about 144 grams -- would supply over 53 milligrams, a higher natural concentration of catechins than found in most foods. Choose fresh blackberries when they're in season, from late summer to the early weeks of fall. Frozen plain blackberries are a good alternative during other times of the year, but avoid blackberries canned in heavy syrup -- these are high in calories and sugar.
Enjoy Dark Chocolate in Moderation
A 100-gram serving of dark chocolate contains approximately 12 milligrams of catechins. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a single serving as 1 ounce, or around 30 grams, of dark chocolate. This amount would contain 3.6 milligrams of catechins. Experts at the University of California, Davis, Department of Nutrition advise consuming no more than one serving per day to keep your intake of fat and sugar calories as low as possible.
Opt for Black Grapes
Red, white, green and black grapes are all sources of catechins, but black grapes contain the highest concentration. While 100 grams of red grapes have 0.82 milligram of catechins and green and white grapes each contain 3.73 milligrams, the same amount of black grapes supplies 10.1 milligrams of the phytochemical compounds. A typical 1-cup serving of black Thompson seedless grapes, the most popular grape type in the United States, contains 15.2 milligrams of catechins.
Experiment with Fava Beans
Also commonly known as broad beans, fava beans can be eaten raw or cooked, and the catechin content changes depending on which you choose. Boiled fava beans have about 8.2 milligrams of catechins in every 100 grams; raw fava beans contain almost twice as much at 14.3 milligrams per 100 grams. Fava beans are in season from March to May. Add uncooked fava beans to salads or eat them as a snack. As long as the beans are immature, you don't have to peel the individual seeds.
- Linus Pauling Institute: Flavonoids
- University of California, Davis: Some Facts About Catechins
- University of California, Davis: Some Facts About Phytochemicals
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Blackberries, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chocolate, Dark, 70-85% Cacao Solids
- USDA: USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods
- Agricultural Marketing Research Center: Commodity Profile - Table Grapes
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Grapes, Red or Green (European Type, Such as Thompson Seedless), Raw
- Gourmet Sleuth: About Fava Beans
- The Kitchn: Time-Saving, Mind-Blowing Tip -- You Don't Have to Peel Fava Beans