The flavonols are a sub-group of phytonutrients (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and are not believed to be essential in humans but have numerous health benefits) that are part of the flavonoid family. Some of the main flavonols are:
The flavonols can be found in a wide range of fruits, vegetables and teas with most natural foods containing some of these important nutrients. But if they are not essential in humans what exactly do they do? In this article I will be taking a deeper look at these powerful phytonutrients and discussing 13 top flavonol health benefits:
1) ACTING AS ANTIHISTAMINES:- Histamine is a chemical that your body releases during allergic reactions and can cause itching, sneezing, swelling or redness. The good news is that quercetin is a potent antihistamine (a substance that acts against histamine and reduces its negative effects) which makes dealing with allergies much more bearable.
2) ACTING AS ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES:- Inflammation is your body’s natural reaction to infection, injury, irritation or stress. It is characterised by heat, pain, redness and swelling. Most inflammation is a positive response to infection, injury, irritation or stress and shows that your body is trying to repair any damage that was done. However, in some circumstances inflammation is unnecessary and actually damages your body’s cells. Fortunately, gingerol, myricetin and rutin are all powerful anti-inflammatories (substances that minimise unnecessary inflammation in the body) which help ensure that any inflammation you experience is necessary.
3) ACTING AS ANTIOXIDANTS:- Antioxidants are a very important group of nutrients that help protect the body’s cells from free radicals (dangerous substances that are released as a by-product of oxygen related reactions). Free radicals have been linked with an increased risk of cancer, an increased risk of diabetes and a weak immune system. The good news is that all of the flavonols are potent antioxidants which can shield your body’s cells from free radicals and their damaging effects.
4) ACTING AS PHYTOESTROGENS:- Phytoestrogens are compounds that act regulate estrogen levels in the body and can help prevent cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density) and negative menopausal symptoms. The flavonol kaempferol falls into this category and can provide your body with all these phytoestrogen benefits.
5) BOOSTING YOUR BLOOD HEALTH:- The flavonols support healthy blood in many different ways. Rutin benefits your blood by improving your circulation, preventing atherogenesis (a condition where hard plaques form on your artery walls), preventing haemophilia (a condition which leads to uncontrollable bleeding) and strengthening your capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in the human body). In addition to this, gingerol, isorhamnetin and quercetin all reduce high blood pressure whilst isorhamnetin and kaempferol prevent arteriosclerosis (the hardening and loss of elasticity within the artery walls). Finally, myricetin and quercetin reduce blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a type of cholesterol that causes blockages in the artery walls).
6) BOOSTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:- A number of studies have linked the flavonols with improved mental health. Gingerol is a powerful antidepressant whilst myricetin may help treat mental disorders (although further research is required before this health benefit can be confirmed).
7) BOOSTING YOUR METABOLISM:- Kaempferol can help maximise your metabolism by stimulating the production of the metabolism boosting hormone triiodothyronine (also known as T3). This is particularly beneficial if you are trying to lose weight as it will increase the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis.
8) BOOSTING YOUR SKIN HEALTH:- Rutin has a protective effect on all the collagen (the main protein in animal connective tissues) in your body. This is particularly good news for your skin as collagen is responsible for keeping it firm and preventing wrinkles.
9) PREVENTING CANCER:- Cancer is a nasty health condition that starts when the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in your body’s cells gets damaged. This DNA damage then causes your cells to grow in a rapid, uncontrollable way and can ultimately lead to the formation of a tumour. If this tumour becomes cancerous it can then spread to other areas of the body and damage the cells in that area. Fortunately, all of the flavonols are cancer fighting powerhouses that can help keep you safe from this nasty disease.
10) PREVENTING HEART DISEASE:- Heart disease is 1 of the most common causes of premature deaths in the UK. The good news is that the flavonols can reduce your heart disease risk considerably. As discussed above, they support healthy blood flow which ensures that your heart is always supplied with enough oxygen. In addition to this, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin, rutin and quercetin have all been directly linked with heart disease prevention.
11) PROTECTING YOUR EYES:- Our eyes are 1 of the main things that suffer with age. Fortunately, rutin can help keep your eyes healthy throughout your lifetime. This powerful flavonol can protect against cataracts (clouding on the lenses of the eyes), protect against glaucoma (a disease that damages the optic nerve and impairs vision) and prevent macular degeneration.
12) STRENGTHENING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM:- The immune system is a set of biological structures and processes that protects your cells from disease and foreign bodies. A strong immune system makes you much better equipped to fight illness and increases your chances of staying healthy all year round. The good news is that gingerol can give your immune system a real boost by stimulating the production of dermicidin (a protein that is manufactured in the body’s sweat glands and fights dangerous micro-organisms).
13) TREATING DIABETES:- Diabetes is a health condition that develops when your body fails to produce enough insulin (a hormone which allows your cells to take glucose from the blood) or when your body’s cells stop responding to insulin. Ultimately, it causes your blood glucose levels to become extremely high and if left untreated it can cause serious damage to your cells and vital organs. Fortunately, the flavonols can you help manage and treat diabetes. Quercetin is a particularly effective treatment as it increases insulin levels and lowers blood glucose levels. Provisional research suggests that isorhamnetin and myricetin may also relieve the negative symptoms associated with diabetes but more evidence is required before this can be confirmed.
FLAVONOL HEALTH BENEFITS SUMMARY
It is hard to see why you would not want to include the flavonols in your diet. They protect your body’s cells, boost your overall health and protect you from numerous nasty diseases. In addition to this, the flavonols can easily be incorporated into your diet by adding a few natural foods to the mix. Apples, almonds, berries, peppers, spinach and tea are just some of the many flavonol rich foods out there. So what are you waiting for? Start tucking into these powerful nutrients right now and enjoy all the flavonol health benefits listed in this article.