WHAT ARE THE FLAVANONES?
The flavanones are a group of health boosting nutrients that are found inplant based foods (such as fruits, herbs and vegetables). They fall under the flavonoid group of phytonutrients (a group of chemical compounds which occur naturally in plants and have numerous health benefits but are not considered essential nutrients).
The flavanones and the other flavonoids were discovered in 1938 by the Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi. He initially referred to the flavonoids as vitamin P but it was later discovered that they are not essential to human health and therefore not technically vitamins.
Whilst the flavanones are not considered essential to human health, you should still try to make them a regular part of your diet. They are all powerful antioxidants which can protect your body’s cells from damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen based reactions) and keep you healthy and disease free.
In this article I will be discussing 3 of the main flavanones in greater detail:
Functions:- Hesperidin is a hypolipidemic (a substance which lowers levels of lipids in the blood) which can also boost the immune system, keep the capillaries (the smallest blood vessels in the human body) healthy and prevent cancer. In addition to this, hesperidin can protect the blood vessels, reduce blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a type of cholesterol which can cause blockages in the arteries and increase your heart disease risk) and reduce inflammation within the body.
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):- There is currently no RDA for hesperidin. However, many sources suggest that consuming between 10 milligrams (mg) and 100mg of this nutrient each day is enough to enjoy the health benefits discussed above. Consuming up to 500mg of hesperidin a day is thought to be safe.
Food Sources:- Hesperidin is mainly found in citrus fruits (particularly the white parts and the pulps of the citrus peel). Blood orange juice (13.12mg per 100 grams (g)), lemons (27.9mg per 100g), oranges (27.25mg per 100g) and orange juice (5.52mg per 100g) are all excellent sources.
Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with hesperidin consumption.
Deficiency Symptoms:- Although hesperidin is not considered essential to human health, research suggests that failing to consume at least 10mg of this nutrient each day can lead to abnormal capillary bleeding, leg cramps, pain in the extremities and weakness.
Functions:- Naringenin is a particularly useful phytonutrient for people suffering from diabetes. It increases insulin sensitivity (which is highly beneficial for people suffering from type 2 diabetes) and prevents diabetic retinopathy. Naringenin also prevents cancer, protects deoxyribonucleic acid (the body’s main genetic information carrier which is also known as DNA), reduces blood levels of LDL cholesterol and reduces the production of the hepatitis C virus (a type of virus which causes damage and inflammation in the liver).
RDA:- There is currently no RDA for naringenin.
Food Sources:- Grapefruit is the best food source of naringenin with pink grapefruits containing 32.64mg per 100g and white grapefruits containing 21.34mg per 100g. Oranges are also a very good source of this phytonutrient containing 15.32mg per 100g.
Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with naringenin consumption.
Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with naringenin consumption.
Functions:- Silymarin is a key nutrient for liver health which acts as an antihepatotoxic (a substance which protects the liver from various types of damaging toxins), prevents liver inflammation, promotes the growth of liver cells and treats a variety of liver diseases. It also protects many other vital organs (including the gall bladder, the kidneys and the pancreas), improves insulin sensitivity, prevents cancer and reduces blood levels of LDL cholesterol.
RDA:- There is currently no RDA for silymarin. However, a number of sources suggest consuming between 400mg and 600mg of milk thistle (which is around 70% silymarin) per day is enough to enjoy the health benefits discussed above. Consumption of up to 800mg of milk thistle each day for the treatment of liver disease is thought to be safe.
Food Sources:- There is little information available on the exact amounts of silymarin found in foods. Milk thistle is considered the richest source but artichokes, coriander and turmeric are all good sources.
Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with silymarin consumption. However, some people are allergic to this phytonutrient and this can lead to closing of the throat, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, hives (a type of skin rash) and swelling of the face, lips and tongue. Eating silymarin can also interfere with the action of oral contraceptives.
Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with silymarin consumption.
Although they are not considered essential to human health, you should still make the effort to include flavanones in your diet. They can fight cancer, keep your blood and blood vessels healthy, assist in the treatment of diabetes and protect your vital organs. So if you are not a big fruit and vegetable eater, now is the time to make the change. Try replacing some of your usual snacks with fruits and try including vegetables in every one of your main meals. Doing this will give your body a constant supply of health boosting flavanones.