People who regularly consume moderate to high amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, such as fruits and tea, are less likely to die from cancer or heart disease, says an Australian-Danish study.
The beneficial effect of flavonoids on health has been observed particularly among people at high risk of having chronic diseases due to smoking or who consume more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
To arrive at this conclusion, Dr. Nicola Bondonno of the Edith Cowan University School of Medicine in Perth, Australia, and her colleagues analyzed data collected from a Danish cohort of 53,048 individuals whose eating habits have been listed for 23 years.
Our findings are important because they highlight the potential for preventing cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly those who are at high risk of developing chronic diseases.
Dr. Nicola Bondonno
But it is also important to note that the consumption of flavonoids does not neutralize all the increased risks of death caused by smoking and high consumption of alcohol, said the researcher.
The best thing to do for your health is to stop smoking and reduce your alcohol intake.
Dr. Nicola Bondonno
“These lifestyle habits are very difficult to change. Encouraging the consumption of flavonoids may be one way to reduce the increased risk, particularly if it is associated with pushing people to quit and reduce their alcohol consumption=,” Dr. Bondonno said.
- The flavonoids were discovered in 1936 by the Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1937, who also discovered vitamin C.
- Besides in fruits and vegetables like apples and broccoli, flavonoids are present in tea, red wine, dark chocolate, and honey.
- These are so-called polyphenolic compounds, known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and for those they have on heart health by keeping the arteries relaxed and preventing blood platelets from clumping together to form a clot.
How much to consume?
In the cohort, people who consumed about 500 mg of flavonoids a day had the lowest risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.
Researchers say it’s important to vary its consumption of flavonoid compounds found in a variety of plant-based foods and beverages.
For example, every day, drinking a cup of tea, eating an apple, an orange, 100 g of blueberries and 100 g of broccoli can exceed 500 mg of flavonoids.
Dr. Bondonno says that while research has established an association between flavonoid consumption and decreased risk of premature death, the exact nature of the protective effect is still unclear and could be broken down into several aspects.
Alcohol use and smoking increase inflammation and damage the blood vessels, which can increase the risk of suffering from various diseases.
Dr. Nicola Bondonno
However, the anti-inflammatory effect of flavonoids on blood vessels has already been demonstrated, and could be part of the explanation.
The authors of the study published in the journal Nature Communications (New Window) now want to try to establish which types of cancer or heart disease are most affected by the beneficial effects of flavonoids.
Hamza Fazal is a reporter for The Hear UP. After graduating from the University of Abbottabad, Hamza got an internship at the NPR and worked as a reporter and producer. Hamza has also worked as a reporter for the Medium. Hamza covers health and science for The Hear UP.
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Umar Nisar was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Umar Nisar has contributed to many online publications including PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Umar Nisar earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Umar Nisar follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.