From cacao to quinoa, flavonoids can be found in a number of superfoods. But what exactly are they? And why should we be adding more of these antioxidants to our diet?
In this blog post, we give you the lowdown on flavonoids and their amazing health benefits.
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are one of the largest nutrient families known to scientists, offering a huge range of health benefits. Some of the best-known flavonoids include kaempferol, quercetin, catechins, and anthocyanidins, each of which can be found in some of our favourite superfood fruits and vegetables.
Flavonoids might be microscopic phytonutrients, but these antioxidants are responsible for the vibrant colour of a wide range of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Not only that, but they protect plants from the damaging effects of free radicals. When consumed by humans, the antioxidant works in a similar way. By both neutralising free radicals and supporting immune functions, flavonoids can potentially help protect against a huge range of inflammatory diseases.
How can they help you?
Scientific research into the effect of flavonoids has increased dramatically in recent years, with a number of studies pointing towards the benefit of these compounds.
Inflammation is the root cause of a number of common diseases, meaning it is super important to include anti-inflammatory foods in our diet. Foods rich in flavanols, a type of flavonoid, have been found to be particularly important in reducing inflammation. In fact, a 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a daily dose of unsweetened cocoa powder reduced levels of adhesion molecules in humans, helping to decrease the risk of plaque build-up in the arteries.
As a type of antioxidant, flavonoids help protect the body from free radical damage. Although most free radicals are natural by-products of metabolism, some of these potentially harmful chemicals are created when the body breaks down environmental toxins like cigarette smoke and fumes.
May help prevent cancer
One study from the Linus Pauling Institute even found that flavonoids might help prevent the development of cancer. In the study, anthocyanins were found to reduce the rate of breast and pancreatic cancer in laboratory mice.
Where can I find flavonoids?
Flavonoids can be found in abundance in a number of superfoods, including green tea, almonds, apples and blueberries. But according to research from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, chocolate might offer one of the biggest doses.
In fact, the 2003 study confirmed that this superfood trumps green tea, red wine, and black tea as the best source of the flavonoid.
For your flavonoid fix, make sure you stick to dark chocolate, or even better, cacao. Available as cacao nibs or powder, this pure form of chocolate offers a wealth of health benefits thanks to its incredible magnesium, potassium, zinc and magnesium content. Not forgetting its impressive flavonoid offering.
To find out more about this tasty superfood – and how it can help you boost your antioxidant intake – check out our blog on the surprising health benefits of cacao.