Flavonoids are plant compounds whose main dietary sources are fruits and vegetables, as well as tea and wine, almost 9,000 different health-benefiting compounds!
Flavonoids are thought to offer support for heart health, the immune system, and brain health, including cognitive impairment that comes with age, along with a wide variety of other important health benefits, including “. . . anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative and anticancer activity, free radical scavenging capacity, antihypertensive effects, coronary heart disease prevention and anti-human immunodeficiency virus functions.”1
1 FLAVONOIDS FOR BONE HEALTH
In one study, the flavonoids in tea proved supportive of bone health. According to this 10-year-long research, scientists followed the diets and lifestyles of 1,188 older women. During that time, one in four of them had a serious fracture occur during the study. Those who had 3 or more cups of tea per day were 30% less likely to have bone fracture as opposed to those who drank one or fewer cups per week. In addition, those who got the most antioxidant flavonoids from tea and diet were one-third less likely to have any kind of fracture.2
2 COCOA, NOT CHOCOLATE
Another good source of flavonoids, specifically flavanols, is cocoa. You may have heard about flavanols and their health benefits in relation to some of its other dietary sources, like red grapes, green, white and black teas, berries, apples and red wine.
Cocoa and chocolate are not the same when it comes to considering health benefits. Chocolate comes from fermenting cocoa seeds and fruit and then grinding them into a paste to create the cocoa butter and cocoa liquor that serve as the basis for chocolate.
The darker a chocolate, the more cocoa it contains. White chocolate has no cocoa content at all. Milk chocolate has some cocoa, but also more milk and sugar. The darker a chocolate, the more cocoa it contains. If you plan to get cocoa from chocolate, look for sources that tell you the percentage of cocoa on the label. The more cocoa in a product versus other ingredients, the more the naturally bitter flavor of the cocoa is likely to be apparent.
Whenever cocoa is processed to make chocolate, its many health benefits are diminished by the processing required. Also, sugar added to a finished product to make cocoa palatable also reduces the efficacy of the cocoa’s potential benefits. Cocoa supplements allow you to get the highest antioxidant quality because the cocoa doesn’t have to be processed like in chocolate. Supplements also allow you to get cocoa without having to overcome its bitter taste.
Cocoa’s flavanols help support:
- A healthy inflammation response
- Antioxidant activity in the body
- Healthy cell growth
- Nitric oxide production, which promotes relaxation of arteries and reduces clotting risk
- The reduction of LDL cholesterol formation in the bloodstream3
3 GET YOUR VEGGIES WITH GREEN SUPERFOODS
The recommendation that adults aged 31-50 should have two-and-a-half to three cups of veggies per day can often be difficult for some people to achieve. Green Superfoods, supplements that combine a variety of healthy greens and other nutrients into powdered mixes, may be an option for some of those daily veggie requirements.
Green Superfoods often contain a variety of:
- Cereal grasses. Greens like wheat, barley, oat, alfalfa and dandelion are heavy in nutrients, especially calcium and iron. These greens also offer liver and digestive support.
- Sea Vegetables/Algae. Greens like dulse, kelp, spirulina and chlorella, contain minerals like iodine, iron, and phosphorous. They help our bodies excrete bad cholesterol, support energy and immune health, and promote a healthy inflammation response. Chlorophyll, the compound plants use in the process of converting sunlight to energy, supports detoxification in the body.
- Green vegetables like spinach, kale, bok choy, and parsley have a very high nutrient content, providing antioxidant activity and alkalizing properties, among many other benefits.4
Making vegetables a part of your everyday life is an important part of any healthy living plan. Whether or not, you use supplements like greens or cocoa to help you fill in the nutrient gaps from a diet that is vegetable-poor, you should strive to choose vegetables so that you meet or exceed the requirements set forth by the experts.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, especially if you take medications or have a medical condition. For example, flavonoids, greens, cocoa, tea, etc. thin blood.
1 Falvonoids health benefits and their molecular mechanism, Mini Rev Med Chem 2011 Feb; 11(2):169-77.
2 Tea for Bone Health. Natural Insights for Well Being. 2015 Dec.
3 Cocoa Powder Power. WholeFoodsMagazine. 2012 Jan: 51.
4 Green Foods: Finding What’s Best For You. WholeFoods Magazine. 2014 Sept: 87.
Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2004 Summer; 59(3):113-22.