Since the 1980’s scientists have been so interested in the health benefits of flavonoids. A flavonoid is a polyphenolic compound that is synthesized by plants and the same is sub-divided into sub-classes. Its high anti-oxidant level made flavonoid a good dietary source to strengthen the body’s immune system and prevent the development of chronic diseases. A diet high in fiber is known to prevent chronic diseases and fruits and vegetables contain high flavonoids content making it a good and healthy diet that strengthens the body against different diseases.
Biological activities of flavonoids
Flavonoids are known to fight off free radicals that are harmful to the body. However, their antioxidant action is not as high as ascorbic acid or vitamin C, glutathione and uric acids. It can catalyze the production of free radicals that gives it the ability to bind metal ions that could increase the production of free radicals in the body. Its metal chelation ability is highly beneficial in pathological conditions on the excessive iron and copper contents in the body.
Management of chronic diseases
Fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoids can decrease the inflammatory action in the body that also increases the free radical formation in the body. Inflammatory enzymes grow and flavonoids could release the inflammatory mediators that could reduce the inflammation process. Conditions like atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction is also considered as an inflammatory disease and eating fruits and vegetables could help manage these conditions. It is also known to be capable of decreasing the vascular cell adhesion in cases of atherosclerosis.
The older population highly benefits from a high fiber diet that is rich in flavonoid content as it keeps the brain healthy thereby sparing them from the degenerative disease like Parkinson’s Disease that commonly affect the older age group. The subjects of the study showed significant improvement in their mental performance with progressive improvement in the cognitive function among the aged population.
European and US-based studies were conducted to link the connection of flavonoids to coronary heart disease. These studies showed the significant reduction of cases of incidence of congestive heart disease with flavonoid intake by eating a high fiber diet of fruits and vegetables. Aggregation and adhesion of platelets can also be prevented with high flavonoid diet. There is no accurate finding with regards to the ability of flavonoid to counteract cancer in humans although it is found to inhibit the cancers induced in animals. Thus, scientists are currently pursuing the possibilities that flavonoid could potentially reduce the risks of various types of cancer like cancer of the lungs, breast, prostate and colon. Further study needs to be undertaken prior to recommending flavonoid for the treatment of cancer.
There is also a promising result in improving cognitive impairment that is associated with aging and inflammation in animal studies. Neurodegenerative diseases are also associated with inflammation and oxidative stress and flavonoid’s anti-inflammatory, metal chelating and antioxidant properties can potentially offer protection against these diseases. Currently, these animal studies offer scientists a good lead to pursue flavonoid administration and flavonoid rich diet to improve cognitive impairment in humans. The susceptibility to germ-causing diseases is reduced with a diet that is high in vegetables and fruits that are rich in flavonoid contents. It gives the body the ability to fight viruses and bacteria.
Food sources of flavonoids
There are several sources of flavonoids that are mostly found in fruits and vegetables. You can also find it in red wine, legumes and tea. Fruits and vegetables are high widely available for consumption and those that are highly colored are known to be high in flavonoid contents. For each fruit and vegetable, the contents of flavonoid usually vary which mainly depend on how the food is processed and grown. Blueberries, capers, cabbage, broccoli, apples (especially the skin), dark chocolates, cocoa, red grapes, onion and strawberries have rich flavonoid contents.
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