The flavonoids (also known as bioflavonoids, polyphenols or vitamin P) are 1 of the main groups of phytonutrients (a collection of chemical compounds that can be found in plants and are not believed to be essential in humans but have numerous health benefits). They can be further broken down into the 9 sub-groups listed below:
– Anthocyanins (which include cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin and petunidin).
– Coumestans (which include coumestrol).
– Flavanones (which include hesperidin, naringenin and silymarin).
– Flavanonols (which include taxifolin).
– Flavan-3-ols (which include catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechol, epigallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate, theaflavin and thearubigins).
– Flavones (which include apigenin, luteolin and tangeretin).
– Flavonols (which include gingerol, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin, rutin and quercetin).
– Isoflavones (which include daidzein and genistein).
The flavonoids can be found in a wide range of natural foods with berries, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, soybeans and tea all containing high levels. But what exactly do these powerful nutrients do? Today I am going to be discussing exactly that and running through 16 excellent flavonoid health benefits:
1) ACTING AS ANTIHISTAMINES:- Histamine is a chemical that is released in response to allergic reactions. It leads to a number of allergic symptoms including itching, sneezing, swelling and redness. Fortunately, if you suffer from allergic symptoms such as these, the flavonoids could be just what you need. Catechin, luteolin, quercetin and taxifolin are all powerful antihistamines (substances that fight the negative effects of histamine) which can make dealing with your allergies much more bearable.
2) ACTING AS ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES:- Inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection, injury, irritation or stress. It leads to heat, pain, redness or swelling as your body deals with the source of the inflammation. In most cases, inflammation is a good thing because it shows that your body is dealing with a threat and attempting to repair any damage that was caused. However, in some cases inflammation is unnecessary and causes serious damage to your body’s cells. The good news is that by eating the flavonoids you can control the inflammation within your body. Apigenin, cyanidin, gingerol, luteolin, myricetin, rutin and taxifolin are all potent anti-inflammatories (substances that prevent unnecessary inflammation in the body) which can ensure any inflammation you do experience is necessary. Delphinidin, malvidin and peonidin may also have a role to play when it comes to managing inflammation within the body but more research is required before this can be confirmed.
3) ACTING AS ANTIOXIDANTS:- Antioxidants are substances that protect your body’s cells from dangerous free radicals (harmful by-products which are released during oxygen related reactions). Free radicals have been shown to contribute to the development of cancer and diabetes whilst also weakening the immune system and accelerating the ageing process. Fortunately, almost every flavonoid is a powerful antioxidant and by eating these important nutrients you can keep your body’s cells safe from free radicals and the damage that they cause.
4) ACTING AS PHYTOESTROGENS:- Estrogen is an important hormone that is responsible for the growth of sexual characteristics and the reproductive system in women. It is also required by men to break down testosterone (the male sex hormone). However, high levels of estrogen can be dangerous for both men and women and lead to cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis (reduced bone mineral density). The good news is that coumestrol, daidzein, genistein and kaempferol are all potent phytoestrogens (substances that regulate estrogen levels in the body) that can keep you safe from these harmful effects.
5) BOOSTING EXERCISE PERFORMANCE:- Provisional research suggests that malvidin and quercetin may both be effective at increasing performance during exercise. Malvidin may help protect the muscles from damage during exercise which means quicker recovery periods and fewer injuries. Quercetin may also improve endurance and energy levels during exercise which means you can exercise for longer. However, additional evidence is required before these potential health benefits can be confirmed.
6) BOOSTING YOUR BLOOD HEALTH:- Another crucial flavonoid health benefit is their blood boosting properties. They list below outlines the many ways that these important nutrients benefit your blood:
– Acting As Hypolipidemics = Hypolipidemics are substances that lower the amount of lipids in your blood. Research has shown that hesperidin is a powerful hypolipidemic and can help keep the levels of lipids in your blood under control.
– Improving Blood Circulation = Research has revealed that apigenin, the chalconoids, epicatechin and taxifolin all improve blood circulation throughout your body.
– Preventing Atherosclerosis = Atherosclerosis is a nasty condition where hard plaques form in your artery walls, restrict the flow of blood and ultimately increase your heart disease risk. Fortunately, the anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavones, flavonols and isoflavones can all prevent atherosclerosis and promote good blood flow throughout your body.
– Preventing Arteriosclerosis = Arteriosclerosis is an unpleasant condition which causes your arteries to become hard and lose elasticity. The good news is that isorhamnetin and kaempferol can both prevent arteriosclerosis and keep your arteries healthy.
– Preventing Haemophilia = Haemophilia is a dangerous health condition which causes you to bleed uncontrollably. Fortunately, rutin can prevent haemophilia and ensure any bleeding you do experience is controlled.
– Protecting The Capillaries = The capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in your body. Hesperidin, luteolin and rutin can all protect the capillaries from damage and ensure that they remain healthy.
– Reducing Blood Levels Of Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol = LDL cholesterol is a type of cholesterol that can cause blockages in the arteries and increase your heart disease risk. Fortunately, the chalconoids, flavanones, flavan-3-ols, flavones and flavonols can all lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol and ensure proper blood flow.
– Reducing High Blood Pressure = Studies have shown that epigallocatechin gallate, gingerol, isorhamnetin, quercetin and taxifolin all have the ability to combat high blood pressure.
7) BOOSTING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:- A wide range of flavonoids have been linked with improved mental health. Catechin, the chalconoids and taxifolin can all prevent Alzheimer’s disease (a mental disorder which leads to the loss of memory, thought and speech). Catechin can also prevent Parkinson’s disease (a degenerative brain disorder which leads to a loss of mobility and speech). In addition to this, studies have shown that gingerol is a potent antidepressant. Provisional research suggests that the chalconoids, myricetin, pelargonidin and taxifolin may also have a role to play in the prevention of other neurodegenerative disorders and that theaflavin may prevent dementia (a form of mental deterioration). However, further evidence is required before this can be confirmed.
8) BOOSTING YOUR METABOLISM:- If you are trying to increase the amount of calories you burn each day then you may be interested in this flavonoid health benefit. Kaempferol supports the production of the metabolism boosting hormone triiodothyronine (also known as T3) which means it can help you maximise your metabolism. This is a great benefit for those who are trying to lose weight.
9) BOOSTING YOUR SKIN HEALTH:- The flavonoids keep your skin healthy in multiple ways. The chalconoids and silymarin can prevent a variety of skin problems (including acne and eczema) and keep your skin looking healthy and blemish free. In addition to this, cyanidin, delphinidin and epicatechin gallate all protect your skin cells from ultraviolet (UV) rays which indirectly protects you from skin cancer and prevents premature signs of ageing. Rutin also has a protective effect on all the collagen (the main protein in animal connective tissues) in your body which helps keep your skin firm and prevents wrinkles.
10) PREVENTING ARTHRITIS:- Arthritis is a type of inflammation that affects the joints and leads to pain, stiffness, swelling and redness. Fortunately, epigallocatechin gallate, gallocatechol and gingerol can all prevent arthritis and reduce the pain associated with this health condition.
11) PREVENTING CANCER:- Cancer is a dangerous disease that develops when the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in your body’s cells becomes corrupted. This then leads to rapid, uncontrollable cellular growth which can then cause a tumour to develop. It this tumour becomes cancerous it can then spread to other areas of the body and damage the surrounding cells. The good news is that almost all the flavonoids have serious cancer fighting properties and can protect you from this seriously unpleasant disease.
12) PREVENTING HEART DISEASE:- Heart disease is 1 of the biggest causes of premature deaths in the UK. Fortunately, the flavonoids can help you in this area too. The anthocyanins, chalconoids, flavan-3-ols, flavonols and taxifolin have all been directly linked with a lower heart disease risk. In addition to this, the blood boosting benefits of flavonoids that were discussed above indirectly keep your heart healthy by ensuring that it always has a regular supply of oxygen.
13) PROTECTING THE LIVER:- The liver is a highly important organ that supports healthy digestion and removes dangerous toxins from your body. The good news is that the flavonols can keep your liver in in tip top shape. Naringenin can limit the production of the hepatitis C virus (a virus which damages to the liver and increases liver inflammation) whilst silymarin acts as an antihepatotoxic (a substance that protects the liver from dangerous toxins), prevents liver inflammation and treats various types of liver disease.
14) PROTECTING YOUR EYES:- As we age our eyes tend to deteriorate. Fortunately, rutin can help keep your eyes fully functional as you get older. Studies have shown that this powerful nutrient 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.
15) STRENGTHENING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM:- The immune system is a collection of biological structures and processes that protects the body from disease and foreign bodies. A strong immune system helps you stay healthy and disease free all year round. Fortunately, the flavonoids can give your immune system a serious kick. Gallocatechol, gingerol, hesperidin, luteolin and theaflavin have all been shown to strengthen the immune system and help it fight infection and disease.
16) TREATING DIABETES:- Diabetes is a disease that is characterised by extremely high blood glucose levels. In most cases it is caused by either your body failing to respond to insulin (a hormone that allows your cells to take glucose from the blood) or your body failing to produce enough insulin. If it is left untreated, diabetes can cause significant damage to your body’s cells and vital organs. The good news is that almost all the flavonoids can help you treat and manage diabetes. Studies have shown that these powerful nutrients boost insulin production in the body, make your body’ s cells more receptive to insulin, mimic the action of insulin (by allowing your cells to take glucose from the blood) and even protect against diabetes damage.
FLAVONOID HEALTH BENEFITS SUMMARY
The flavonoids are 1 of the most well known phytonutrients and with all these benefits it’s not hard to see why. They support every area of your body and protect against some of the most dangerous diseases around. The good news is that these phytonutrients are surprisingly easy to add to your diet. All you need to do is start eating more natural, unprocessed, plant based foods and you will keep your body full of health boosting flavonoids. As discussed above, berries, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, soybeans and tea are just some of the many flavonoid food sources out there. So what are you waiting for? Start filling up on plant based foods today and enjoy all the flavonoid health benefits they have to offer.