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List of High Phenol Foods

author image Kelley Reed
Kelley Reed has been writing nutrition-related articles for LIVESTRONG.COM since 2010. Based in Texas, she holds credentials as a registered dietitian and works as a pediatric dietitian. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Texas State University.
List of High Phenol Foods
A variety of berries for sale at a market. Photo Credit: gnagel/iStock/Getty Images

The term phenol refers to a large group of chemical compounds found in plants. These chemicals make up the active substances in many plants and are responsible for controlling the activity of a range of enzymes and cell receptors, thus protecting the plant from bacterial and fungal infections and UV radiation damage. Phenols, having such protective properties and high antioxidant profiles, have caught the attention of scientists and those in search of good health. On the other hand, if you have been advised to stay away from high-phenol foods, these are foods you should avoid.

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The fruit group consists of a range of phenol-containing foods. To pick fruits containing the highest level of phenols, aim for the berry family. Other fruits to reach for are citrus varieties, apples, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, grapes and cherries. When selecting fruits based on phenol content, keep this tip in mind: the darker the fruit, the greater the phenol content. By eating the seeds and skins, you can achieve the highest amount of phenols plant foods provide.


The vegetable food group also contains an array of foods high in phenol content, with the highest content found in the yellow onion. Additionally, artichokes, potatoes, rhubarb, red cabbage, curly kale, leeks, cherry tomatoes, celery and broccoli all offer a good supply of phenols.


Stock the pantry shelves with the following grains, keeping in mind the descending phenol content order: buckwheat, rye, oats, barley, corn, wheat and rice, respectively. Common foods containing these grains include breads, oatmeal, tortillas, pastas and cereals.


Fill grocery carts with a variety of peas and beans in the form of canned or dried beans or spreads, with soybeans having the greatest amount of phenols. Add beans and peas to soups, salads, dips and other dishes.


Spice things up in the kitchen by using parsley and capsicum pepper, with parsley containing the largest amount of phenols. Using such spices is a sure way to increase the phenol content of any food.


You can sip on numerous beverages to boost phenol intake. Reach for cider, coffee, soy milk, regular milk, cocoa, red wine, black and green teas, and orange and grapefruit juices. For the highest phenol content, fill your cup with coffee and green tea. Any beverage made from other sources of phenols mentioned will make for a good beverage choice.

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