A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and beverages are rich in one of the most complex groups of naturally occurring compounds found in foods. Known as bioflavonoids, or simply flavonoids, more than 8,000 different types have been identified with even more likely to be discovered in the future. Bioflavonoids include isoflavonoids, flavanones, flavonols, flavanols, flavones and anthocyanidins.
Bioflavonoids and health
Foods rich in bioflavonoids include celery, parsley, herbs, peppers, berries, pomegranates, plums, red wine, grapes, citrus fruits, soybeans, legumes, onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, tea, beans, apples and cocoa. Diets that regularly include these bioflavonoid-rich foods have been associated with longevity and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some types of cancer, and neurogenerative diseases.
Research suggests that the ability of bioflavonoids to reduce the risk of several diseases is due to their ability to reduce inflammation, boost the body’s immune response, and to scavenge harmful free radicals. Their protective qualities are the reason they are produced by plants—self-protection against environmental insults.
Supplements or food
Bioflavonoid supplements are available in a wide range of combinations and dosages. Many bioflavonoid supplements come from oranges, but it’s not always possible to know the exact source or which bioflavonoids you’re getting in a supplement. A label may simply say “bioflavonoids,” without listing the specific bioflavonoids the supplement contains. Most common are bioflavonoids paired with vitamin C. That’s because vitamin C enhances their absorption. There are quite a few supplements of individual bioflavonoids, such as hesperidin, quercetin, and catechins. However, if you eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids, you should get plenty, as well as vitamin C to aid absorption.
Bioflavonoid absorption and bioavailability depends on several factors besides being coupled with vitamin C. A healthy balance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract may also improve absorption. On the other hand, studies have shown that high levels of protein in the diet may decrease their availability.
It would be virtually impossible to take enough supplements to get all the thousands of bioflavonoids found naturally in foods. Instead, make bioflavonoid-rich foods a regular part of your daily diet and you’ll get the amazing array of bioflavonoids plus absorption-enhancing vitamin C.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)
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