What are flavonoids?

Some foods, such as grapes, tea and chocolate, contain special components called phytochemicals that may be beneficial to your heart health. Enjoying them in moderation may be doing something healthy for your heart. 

Flavonoids are one group of phytochemicals found naturally in red wine, tea, cocoa, soy, citrus fruits, berries, apples, onions and pulses (dried beans, peas and lentils). There are thousands of different flavonoids found in many different foods. For example, there are catechins in tea, flavanols in cocoa and isoflavones in soy. Research shows a variety of flavonoids may be beneficial for your heart health. 

Flavonoids act as a shield in plants to protect against toxins and to help repair damage. It is thought that when we eat flavonoids, they act similarly within the body. As antioxidants, they help prevent damage from free radicals that can build up during normal body processes, such as breathing. When flavonoids prevent free radicals from building up, oxidation of "bad" lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol decreases, which prevents atherosclerosis, or plaque formation within the walls of the arteries. Flavonoids also appear to help prevent blood clotting, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation and help with insulin sensitivity. Thus, although more research is needed, eating a variety of foods rich in flavonoids may lower your risk of heart disease.
Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties, which means they reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries, and help fight aging by preventing -- and repairing -- cellular damage. Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and some cancers.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
Flavonoids are the components responsible for the color of fruits and vegetables; they have been found to be important for our health. Although they have not reached "star" recognition yet, consumers are starting to hear more about them.

Many studies are showing flavonoids to have versatile health benefits. For instance, they may prevent heart diseases and some types of cancers. Some of the key flavonoids are flavonols, isoflavones and catechins. Foods rich in flavonoids are green tea, spices, soy and fruits such as: oranges, pink grapefruit, blueberries, red and purple grapes.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Flavonoids are substances that are like vitamins but, unlike vitamins, aren't essential for life. We don't know the mechanism of action of flavonoids, but they are powerful antioxidants, even more powerful than vitamins C and E combined. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects. However, it may well be effects other than antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects that produce the benefit of flavonoids in keeping our immune system young.
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Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics
Flavonoids are a category of protective chemicals in plant foods called phytochemicals. They include resveratrol, hesperidin, anthocyanin, quercetin, and tangeritin act. All of these act against inflammation and prevent platelets from sticking together. They also block the enzymes that raise blood pressure.

Sources include vitamin-C-rich foods such as apples, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, plums, limes, strawberries, broccoli, pears, red grapes, kale, onions, and kiwifruit.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Flavonoids are found in food in things like teas and dark-colored berries. They're similar to vitamins and are important in maintaining health. Studies have suggested an association between diets high in flavonoids and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. They're what gives a lot of foods we have color.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.
Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

The flavonoids are a group of plant pigments, which exert antioxidant activity that is more potent and effective against a broader range of oxidants than the traditional antioxidant nutrients vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc. Besides lending color to fruits and flowers, flavonoids are responsible for many of the medicinal properties of foods, juices, herbs, and bee pollen. Flavonoids are sometimes called "nature's biological response modifiers" because of their anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiviral, and anticancer properties.

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Antioxidants help your body repair cells damaged by free radicals. The most common antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamins A, C and E. Antioxidants can also be found in fruits, vegetables and teas. Most experts belie...

ve that getting antioxidants from food is the most healthful way to obtain them but they may also be taken as supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.