All About Flavonoids: Why The Hype?
You might have heard about flavonoids many, many times before. After all, you can find them all over the place! They are in tea, chocolate, wine, and many other foods. They have even been used medicinally for thousands of years!
Thus, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that they might have a trick or two up their sleeve. Indeed, it's actually worth your time getting to know them a little bit better.
So, are you ready to roll? Then let's head out.
What Are Flavonoids Anyway?
Flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids are a class of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) that can be found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They are also present in herbs, spices, tea, coffee, red wine, and chocolate.
In fact, flavonoids are the largest group of polyphenols – a type of micronutrient with antioxidant properties.
The widely varied colors of naturally occurring fruits and vegetables are due, in part, to the presence of flavonoids. These pigments act as a kind of "built-in sunscreen" for the plant, protecting it from damage by ultraviolet light.
Flavonoids are not only interesting because of their color. They are also known for their health-promoting effects on humans.
There are more than 6,000 types of flavonoids, which can be further classified into six main groups:
These are found in herbs and spices like parsley, thyme, and basil. Also present in mint, rosemary, and sage, and citrus fruits, flavones function as natural pest repellants to their native plants.
Found in tea, red wine, onions, kale, and broccoli, flavonols have been linked to lower risks of coronary heart disease and stroke. They may also improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. These are amongst the most popular and well-researched classes of flavonoids.
These are found in soybeans and other legumes, such as peanuts and chickpeas. Isoflavones have received particular attention for their possible role in preventing or relieving symptoms of menopause thanks to their phytoestrogenic property.
You can find anthocyanins in berries, cherries, red grapes, and aubergines. They are also responsible for the red, blue, and purple colors of many flowers and fruits. These flavonoids have potent antioxidant activity and may help protect against various chronic diseases with an inflammatory etiology.
Hesperidin – a type of flavanone – is found in oranges and other citrus fruits. Naringenin, another flavanone, is found in grapefruit. Both of these flavonoids have shown promising effects on cardiovascular health in preliminary research.
Closely related to the catechins, these are found in green or white tea and dark chocolate. They have powerful antioxidant effects and may help to prevent various chronic diseases.
What Are The Benefits of Flavonoids?
There are so many benefits of flavonoids that they should be considered as a separate food group! Well, Not exactly, but the sheer magnitude of benefits that they provide is very impressive.
Some of the potential benefits of flavonoids include:
Flavonoids Are Antioxidants
Oxidation is an unavoidable process that occurs throughout life. In fact, oxidation is the reason why apples turn brown when cut open and why metals rust.
The process of oxidation involves electrons being transferred from one molecule to another. This can cause damage to cells, especially when the process happens too quickly.
Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that can help to protect cells from damage by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are damaging molecules that are produced as a by-product of the oxidation process.
Flavonoids are antioxidants because they can donate electrons to molecules (and hence, called electron donors)that are undergoing oxidation, thus preventing damage and helping to stabilize the harmful molecules.
Flavonoids Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Occurring arm in arm with oxidation, inflammation is a biological response to cellular damage. It is characterized by redness, swelling, and pain (when it can be perceived)
Inflammation is an essentially biological process. We cannot survive without it. In normal amounts, inflammation is beneficial as it helps to remove damaged cells and initiates the repair process. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to various diseases that ravage our health.
Beneficial For Heart Health
The link between flavonoids and heart health has been widely studied. In general, the results have been very promising with most studies finding that flavonoid consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
To be specific, it can assist with several aspects of cardiovascular health including:
– Improving cholesterol levels
– Reducing the risk of stroke
– Reducing the risk of coronary heart disease
-Reducing atherosclerotic plaque deposition
May Assist With Cancer Prevention
Let's be honest here- there's no magic bullet, or 100% guaranteed way to eliminate your risk of cancer completely. That's simply because there are so many unknowns that lead to its development that it's nearly impossible to pinpoint them all.
However, that's not to say that you can't cut your relative risk by mitigating all that you have control over, especially the lifestyle-related factors, including diet and exercise,
Flavonoids found in the fruit and vegetables consumed as part of a healthy diet have been inversely associated with the risk of various types of cancer. This means that the higher the intake of flavonoids, the lower the risk of developing cancer( as much as is possible for one to attain).
The flavonoids do that by suppressing oxidative and inflammatory processes that may lead to cancerous cell development and also by preventing DNA damage from occurring.
May Improve Cognitive Function and Prevent Neurological Diseases
Flavonoids have been extensively studied for their potential to prevent cognitive loss and improve brain function. The results have been very promising so far with most studies finding a significant link between flavonoid intake and better cognitive function.
In particular, they can ameliorate the rate of decline in cognitive function that naturally occurs with age by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.
In addition, flavonoids may also help to reduce the risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
May Help Reduce The Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in recent years and has been linked to various lifestyle factors such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity.
The good news is that by making flavonoids a regular part of your diet, you may be able to help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Flavonoids can do that by reducing insulin resistance, improving beta-cell function, and preventing the oxidative stress that leads to diabetes.
Flavonoids Can Boost The Immune System.
No conversation about flavonoids would be complete without mentioning their role in boosting the immune system.
The fact is, our immune system is constantly under attack from pathogens and other foreign invaders. In order to function properly, it needs all the help it can get.
Flavonoids can provide that help by stimulating the production of white blood cells and increasing their activity. They can also help to reduce inflammation, which is important in the fight against disease.
Plus, it's worth mentioning the fact that these flavonoids don't act in isolation, as they are often naturally occurring with the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C, and E.
Supports Healthy Vision
Flavonoids such as quercetin and rutin are very beneficial for helping to maintain eye health. Here they slow the natural progression of macular degeneration, which contributes to gradual vision loss.
The anthocyanins found heavily in berries are well-renowned for their prowess in this department as well.
They May Help Reduce Symptoms Of Asthma and Allergies.
Asthma can make it difficult to enjoy life to the fullest. This is because even moderate physical activity or environmental triggers or allergens negatively affects lung function and can trigger severe asthmatic episodes.
Allergies, while not as severe on the spectrum as asthma also interplays in the frequency of the attacks, and can be frustrating in their own right.
However, flavonoids such as luteolin, quercetin, apigenin, and kaempferol are beneficial in helping to relieve symptoms or the frequency of both asthma and allergies by reducing inflammation in the lung and respiratory tract.
It is also well-established that larger consumption of fruits and veggies do positively impact these areas, so it's worth the time getting more in your diet.
They Can Improve Skin Health and Appearance.
Cosmetics and anti-aging supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason. Everyone wants to look their best, and one of the ways to do that is by maintaining healthy skin.
Many of these formulations contain flavonoids and for good reason.
They can help to protect the skin from damage by UV radiation, reduce inflammation and excessive oxidation, and improve skin elasticity.
Some of the most popular flavonoids used in skin care products are hesperidin, naringenin, and quercetin.
They Can Promote Healthy Digestion
.The benefits of flavonoids don't stop at the skin's surface. They can also promote healthy digestion by reducing inflammation in the gut, stimulating the production of stomach acid, and improving bowel function.
Leaky gut syndrome is characterized by increased permeability of the gut wall, which allows toxins and other harmful substances to enter the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation throughout the body.
Flavonoids can help to heal a leaky gut by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Plus, their vascular-promoting properties are absolutely beneficial for maintaining blood flow throughout the digestive tract and can combat/ reduce the development of hemorrhoids that may be triggered by constant bouts of constipation.
What Are Some Food Sources of Flavonoids?
The good news is that flavonoids are found in a wide variety of foods, so it should be relatively easy to get more of them in your diet.
Some of the best food sources of flavonoids include:
- Fruits and vegetables, such as berries, citrus fruits, apples, onions, kale, spinach, and broccoli
- Herbs and spices, such as oregano, garlic, ginger, and turmeric
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient - a natural compound found in plants that is beneficial for human health. There are literally too many flavonoids to list, but rest assured that they are all helpful in some shape or form to your health.
Are Flavonoids Available In Supplement Form?
Thanks to their plentiful health benefits, flavonoids have become a popular ingredient in dietary supplements.
You can find them in specialized formulations concentrated for just one flavonoid, or in blends that contain several of the flavonoids which work synergistically together for good health.
Our Field Of Greens superfood powder is one excellent example, as it contains a wide array of flavonoids from nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.
Do keep in mind that while supplements can be helpful in getting more flavonoids into your diet, they should never replace whole foods. You should still try your best to get those foods in from plants as much as possible.
Are There Any Side Effects of Flavonoids?
Flavonoids are generally safe and well tolerated. The most common side effect is mild gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, bloating, or nausea.
If you experience any adverse effects after taking a flavonoid supplement, discontinue use and speak with your healthcare provider.
It's also important to note that while rare, some people may be allergic to certain flavonoids.
If you have any allergies, make sure to read supplement labels carefully and avoid any flavonoids that you may be sensitive to.
But generally speaking, they are very safe for use.
The Bottom Line
Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient with powerful health-promoting properties.
They can do so many things for you that you're totally missing out on what they offer if you choose to skip your fruits and veggies.
If this sounds like you, then at a minimum, use Field of Greens to insure your health and wellbeing.