WHAT ARE THE FLAVONES?
The flavones are a group of health boosting nutrients that are found in plant 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 flavones 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.
Although the flavones are not classed as essential nutrients, they should still be consumed to maintain optimal health. Some of their many health benefits include fighting disease, reducing inflammation and supporting important bodily functions (such as metabolism and muscle contractions).
In this article I will be providing an overview of 3 of the main flavones:
Functions:- Apigenin is a powerful antioxidant which fights damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen related reactions). It is also an anti-inflammatory (a substance that reduces inflammation within the body’s cells) and an antispasmodic (a substance which prevents muscle spasms). In addition to this, apigenin can prevent allergies, atherosclerosis (a condition which causes blockages in the arteries) and various types of cancer (including breast cancer, colon cancer, leukaemia, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and thyroid cancer). Finally, it can protect the body’s deoxyribonucleic acid (the body’s main genetic information carrier which is also known as DNA) from free radical damage and reduce blood levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (a type of cholesterol which can cause blockages in the arteries).
Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):- There is currently no RDA for apigenin.
Food Sources:- Apigenin can be found in a wide range of foods with herbs, spices and green leafy vegetables often being the best source. Green celery hearts (19.1 milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g)), parsley (225.93mg per 100g) and vine spinach (62.2mg per 100g) are all brilliant sources of this nutrient.
Overdose Symptoms:- Consuming extremely high levels of apigenin can inhibit the action of certain chemotherapeutic agents and actually make certain cancer treatments less effective.
Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with apigenin consumption.
Functions:- Luteolin is a poweful antioxidant, antihistamine (a substance which counteracts the effects of histamine and prevents allergic symptoms such as itching and sneezing) and anti-inflammatory. It also boosts the immune system, prevents cancer, smooths muscle contractions and strengthens the capillaries (the body’s smallest blood vessels). Finally, luteolin can treat diabetes, various respiratory disorders and various vision disorders.
RDA:- There is currently no RDA for luteolin.
Food Sources:- Luteolin can be found in many different herbs, fruits and vegetables. Some of the best food sources include olive leaves (27.7mg per 100g), peppermint (11.33mg per 100g), pimento peppers (10.36mg per 100g), Queen Anne’s lace leaves (34.1mg per 100g), sage (16.7mg per 100g) and thyme (45.25mg per 100g).
Overdose Symptoms:- Luteolin overdose is extremely rare. In the rare instances where dangerous levels of this phytonutrient are consumed it can lead to gastric hypersecretion (excessive formation of gastric juices), nausea and vomiting.
Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with luteolin consumption.
RDA:- There is currently no RDA for tangeretin.
Food Sources:- The richest source of tangeretin is the peel of citrus fruits but other parts of citrus fruits also contain good levels. Oranges contain approximately 0.3mg of tangeretin per 100g.
Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with tangeretin consumption.
Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with tangeretin consumption.
Despite not being considered essential in humans, the phytonutrients are believed to be one of the main reasons that plant based foods have so many health benefits. The flavones are no exception to this. They can prevent cancer, protect your body’s cells and support many vital functions in your body. So if your diet is quite limited, start making some changes now. Fruits, herbs and vegetables can easily be incorporated into your diet as either a snack or as part of a main meal. Not only do they add colour and flavour but they also give your body a regular supply of nutritious flavones.