You may have heard about flavonoids before, but did you know that a higher intake of dietary flavonoids is associated with improved physical and mental health and a greater quality of life?
Flavonoids – are they important?
Flavonoids are a large group of plant compounds (so-called “phytonutrients”) with more than 6,000 known compounds widely distributed throughout the plant kingdom. In fact, flavonoids are an integral part of our daily plant-based diet as they can be found in fruits (apples, berries, citrus fruits, grapes), herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano), teas (green and chamomile), and vegetables (onions, broccoli, kale, lettuce). They are responsible for the bright colors of many plant-based foods and play an important role in their growth, protection, and development. Similarly, they offer a variety of health benefits for us humans because of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.
Let’s look at how plant nutrients can improve our quality of life!
REDUCED RISK OF HEART DISEASE
Studies have found that flavonoid-rich foods are beneficial for heart health. A recent study conducted on more than 800 elderly women reported a reduced risk of abdominal aortic calcification – a predictor of cardiovascular risk such as heart attack and stroke, as well as late-life dementia – in women who consumed a diet high in flavonoids (green tea). Other studies associated a higher flavonoid intake with a lower risk of all-cause mortality – death resulting from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women, and all other causes.
IMPROVED BRAIN HEALTH
Flavonoids may improve brain health by facilitating the blood flow to the brain, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline. A recent clinical trial reported that blueberry supplementation, which is rich in flavonoid anthocyanins, led to better cognitive functions in both older men and women. Similarly, other flavonoid compounds that occur in strawberries, oranges, peppers, and apples were associated with a slower cognitive decline.
REDUCED RISK OF CANCER
A high dietary intake of flavonoids may reduce the risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer, as several studies concluded. One study suggested that flavonoid compounds may be beneficial in cancer recurrence in overweight and obese breast cancer survivors. Several Asian studies associated a high intake of soy products – which contain high concentrations of isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein – with a reduced risk of breast cancer, as well as a higher chance of breast cancer survival.
REDUCED MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS
Research shows that flavonoids, particularly isoflavones, help relieve menopausal symptoms and reduce hot flashes and night sweats – two common symptoms of menopause. Isoflavones (phytoestrogens) also help slow bone mineral density loss in postmenopausal women, and improve glycemic control and systolic blood pressure during early menopause.
HOW CAN I GET ENOUGH FLAVONOIDS IN MY DIET?
Eating various plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and herbs, is a great way to incorporate more flavonoids into our daily diet! However, even with our best efforts to adopt a healthy, nutrient-dense diet, we may need more plant nutrients to impact our well-being. One reason for that is the global decrease in nutrient density in our food because of the use of synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals in agriculture to increase yield, which can affect soil quality and availability of nutrients to plants. Some studies suggest that organically grown plant foods contain higher amounts of healthpromoting phenolic compounds (such as flavonoids) than conventional food. Another reason is the limited “bioavailability” of flavonoids from food. Therefore, dietary supplements can provide concentrated sources of one or more isolated flavonoids and be a valuable addition to diets – especially those that lack a variety of plant-based, nutrient-dense food – and may prevent micronutrient deficiencies and related health conditions. The benefits of flavonoid-containing supplements to improve health and tackle nutrient deficiencies have been highlighted in my latest scientific paper – co-authored by Joseph E. Pizzorno, ND, founder of Bastyr University and one of the world’s leading authorities on science-based natural/integrative medicine.
Some of the most important flavonoid supplements include:
A high-absorption quercetin supplement – find one that’s clinically supported.
Resveratrol – a flavonoid found in grapes, red wine, and berries
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – a flavonoid found in green tea
Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables is a great place to start. Look for delicious plant based Mediterranean recipes rich in flavonoids. Adding a high quality dietary supplement is also a good choice, especially as flavonoids rank just behind vitamins and minerals as some of the most promising and thoroughly researched plant nutrients that promote health!
Look for the ISURA® CLEAN label, an independent third-party certification for quality and efficacy. Before beginning flavonoid supplementation, consult with your health care practitioner.
Congratulations to the newest member of Women’s Voice editorial advisory board, Julia Solnier, PhD. Julia co-authored a scientific paper with Joseph Pizzorno, ND, one of the world’s leading authorities on science-based natural medicine, and founder of Bastyr University, the country’s first fully accredited university of natural medicine. The review article, “Consideration for Flavonoid-Containing Dietary Supplements to Tackle Deficiency and Optimize Health,” was recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. WV magazine wants to acknowledge the effort and dedication necessary for this achievement. To read the published article and learn more about why flavonoid supplementation may become increasingly important for human health, please visit mdpi.com/1422-0067/24/10/8663