In fact, there are over 8,000 plant compounds that we know of today. Other names you’ll see used synonymously for plant compounds are plant polyphenols, phytochemicals, phytonutrients, or phenolic substances, and because of the sheer number of them, they have been categorized quite extensively.
- Christina Manian, RDN, registered dietitian and freelance writer
One of these compounds that has been found to help us take our health to the next level is kaempferol. Kaempferol lives within the flavonol subclass of the flavonoid group of phenolic compounds. Not confusing at all, right? (...She says dripping with sarcasm.) The good news is that we don’t need a biology degree to fully comprehend just how good foods containing this phytonutrient are for us.
How kaempferol benefits our health
Originally found in the tea tree plant, kaempferol has since been studied extensively. One thing to note about plant compounds is that they all are considered antioxidants. When cells oxidate in our body, their vital structures are damaged, which can lead to cell malfunction or death. So, antioxidants help to protect our cells, reduce inflammation in our bodies, and fight free radicals. Free radicals (or oxidants) are highly reactive, unstable molecules that are charged with many undesirable health issues we can experience, from premature aging all the way to chronic illnesses, like heart disease and cancer.
Multiple studies have been done showing how kaempferol is effective in fighting cancer through a number of pathways. The studies have found that this amazing flavonoid works to restrict tumor growth, prevent tumors from developing blood vessels (severely limiting their impact), and even promote cancer cell death in some instances. Pretty amazing.
Kaempferol has also been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease through its ability to help lower blood pressure and overall bodily inflammation. Finally, a review of several studies surrounding kaempferol also tells us that it is also associated with reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, osteoporosis, respiratory illnesses, and even metabolic disorders like diabetes.
So how can we get more kaempferol in our lives? Well thankfully, there’s so many delicious foods that are full of this phytochemical. We want to aim for 3.5 and 5.5 milligrams (mg) daily and here are some great food sources to get you started.
Top foods rich in kaempferol
Let’s add another bullet point onto the list of why we love kale. Not only is kale an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins K, C, and E, but it also is full of kaempferol with a whopping 47 mg per one and a half cups. Anyone craving a kale caesar salad right about now?
Herbs are so often overlooked as sources of powerful nutrition, perhaps because they can be viewed as an afterthought in a dish or used sparingly compared to other ingredients. Well, it’s time for a mindset shift here because in many cultures herbs are at the heart of health and wellness routines. Chives are a great way to get more kaempferol in your diet (1.5 mg per 1/4 cup) while also offering lots of vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and choline—found to help improve memory and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s.
While watermelon can be typecast as a special treat after a hot summer’s day, it actually boasts quite an impressive amount of nutritional benefits. High in potassium, vitamin B6, and an amino acid called citrulline, watermelon can help lower blood pressure while boosting immune function. Of course, it’s also rich in kaempferol, too, with the exact amount varying depending on where it’s grown.
Beyond making your chicken piccata recipe irresistible, capers are surprisingly super good for us. They’re loaded with kaempferol, with a whopping 23 mg per 1/4 cup. Capers are also full of other buzzworthy plant compounds like quercetin and rutin while also delivering minerals iron and copper. This equates to lower inflammation and improved blood health for us.
The bright color of this summer seasonal favorite gives us a glimpse into just how much nutrition cherries offer. Cherries contain an impressive seven milligrams of kaempferol per one cup. Potassium, magnesium, calcium, and an assortment of vitamins combine with the power of kaempferol to bring the healthfulness of cherries to the next level, rightly earning their spot in your fruit bowl.
Well known for being Popeye's secret to strength and vitality, this vegan source of iron is a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to nutrition. A mere one and a half cups of raw spinach boasts a staggering 28 mg of kaempferol. Alongside kaempferol, spinach is also packed with phytochemicals zeaxanthin and carotenoids to help prevent cancer. Plus, it’s filled with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, to name just a few.
While fresh apricots may be difficult to find depending on where you live, their dried counterparts are often available in most grocery stores, giving you access to all the health benefits they have to offer. One cup of apricots boasts .5 mg of kaempferol. Beyond being high in kaempferol, apricots are full of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lutein—all of which are well documented to boost eye health, making it a vision-supporting superfood.
When your fresh drawer is empty and there’s no produce to be found in the kitchen, look no further than your pantry to get your daily dose of plant nutrition from none other than green tea which offers about two mg of kaempferol per eight ounces. Green tea also contains l-theanine, an amino acid that has been linked to improved brain function and phytonutrient catechin, which has been shown to improve oral health. Say goodbye to coffee breath!
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