This Delicious Guide to Flavonoid Foods Is Rich With Health Benefits
8 minute read
While you eat fresh fruits and vegetables because they taste great (or because your mom told you to), there is so much more to them than meets the eye. Powerful compounds within fruits and vegetables known as flavonoids are very beneficial to your overall health.
Specifically, studies have found that these plant-produced chemicals can protect you from age-related decline. Knowing where to find these amazing flavonoids is the first step to enjoying what they can do for you.
What Are Flavonoids?
Flavonoids are known to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, both of which can prevent serious health problems.
| Related: Turmeric: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory |
Age-related issues, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), have come under study lately as scientists attempt to determine if plant-based compounds can help prevent these through the control of oxidative damage and inflammation.
After looking at the diets and respiratory health of a number of subjects, researchers found that flavonoids help to reduce mucus production and inflammation associated with COPD.
Studies were also extended to include individuals who had smoked but given up. In these cases, regular consumption of flavonoids helped improve lung function and reversed the damage caused from smoking.
It is important to note that there was not improvement found among people who currently smoke, so quitting is really the best option for them.
As for the rest of the population, consuming fresh fruits and vegetables as a regular part of your diet can protect your lungs from age-related decline. In the same way, the flavonoids you eat can protect your other organs and promote overall good health throughout your body.
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With oxidative damage and inflammation being strongly linked to the most serious diseases out there, fruits and vegetables seem like a tasty treatment plan.
Benefits of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families we know about and are mainly found in fruits and vegetables, but can be found in other food sources, too. These plant-based chemicals are responsible for the bright and vibrant colors we see in fruits and vegetables as well as the numerous health benefits we get from eating these foods.
There are five groups of flavonoids, each containing important foods that you need to include in your diet:
♦ Flavonols: Almonds, apples, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and quinoa
♦ Flavan-3-ols: Bananas, blueberries, pears, peaches, and strawberries
♦ Flavones: Bell peppers, celery oranges, watermelon, cantaloupe, and lettuce
♦ Flavonones: Grapefruit, lemons, oranges, and tomatoes
♦ Anthocyanidins: Blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, and chickpeas
Despite being in different categories, every flavonoid possesses powerful properties that can protect you from diseases and boost your overall health at the same time. There is no way to tell for certain the amount of flavonoids you need to consume to enjoy specific health benefits.
The best advice is to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure you enjoy all the potential that flavonoids have to offer. These include:
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health
By reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, flavonoids protect your heart from cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer in the country. In addition to this, these plant-based chemicals help to lower cholesterol levels, thereby protecting your blood vessels from atherosclerosis.
One certain flavonoid, known as quercetin, has been found to effectively prevent platelet aggregation. While some blood clotting is necessary to prevent blood loss from injury, the formation of blood clots that can become dislodged is a real threat. By protecting against this, quercetin helps to prevent strokes as well.
2. Diabetes Management
Flavonoids help to improve vascular function, which has been shown to improve blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. The presence of flavonoids in the diet prevents carbohydrates from quickly turning into glucose, which helps to keep your blood sugar levels down.
In addition to this, flavonoids trigger increased insulin release and the efficient regeneration of pancreatic beta cells, both of which are factors critical to the health of diabetic patients.
3. Prevent Cancer
Cancer cells develop as mutations of healthy cells and DNA mutation can be prevented when oxidative damage is controlled. The presence of free radicals can cause cell damage, but flavonoids have the ability to scavenge these molecules.
Without the ability to grow and metastasize, tumors cannot form, and flavonoids are the best at stopping free radicals, thus potentially preventing the development of cancer cells.
4. Better Brain Health
Just like cancer and heart disease, the main contributors to neurodegeneration are free radical damage and inflammation. Regular flavonoid consumption has been positively correlated with the reduction in risk for developing both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
| Related: Can Turmeric Help Prevent Cancer? |
Not only can flavonoids protect your brain by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation, but they increase blood flow to your brain. Increased blood flow improved cognitive function, thereby keeping your brain in optimal condition and ready to fight off any signs of degeneration.
5. Weight Loss
Inflammation is linked to weight gain, as is increased production of the appetite-suppressing hormone known as leptin. The control over leptin in mice has been shown to reduce obesity and weight-related diseases, such as diabetes.
Inflammation and oxidative damage both interfere with your body’s metabolic processes and ability to digest and store fats and sugars. Therefore, when these are controlled, you have better control over managing your weight.
6. Living Longer
Increased consumption of flavonoids has been linked to increased longevity. This is thought to be linked to the reduction of oxidative damage as well as inflammation, thereby protecting the heart from heart disease.
Controlling inflammation and reducing oxidative damage and mutation to cells also protects against the development of cancer. With cancer, heart disease, and several other inflammation-related diseases out of the picture, you have the green light to enjoy life to the fullest.
The Bottom Line
Flavonoids may be more famous because of the vivid colors they give our foods, but they are more powerful than people realize. The bright colors were likely just nature’s way of getting our attention so we wouldn’t miss out on the health benefits within these super compounds.
The best part about flavonoids is that there are so many, so chances are they are in some of your favorite foods. Getting your daily dose will be easy and delicious at the same time.