FIFTEEN years ago, few would’ve heard of the term ‘flavonoids’ or 'polyphenols', but recently, these plant bioactives have been achieving outstanding scientific recognition for their powerful health-protecting effects.
Doctors are now saying that even people with a family history of heart disease may be able to modify their outcomes through diet and eating brightly coloured foods rich in these compounds.
The ‘French paradox’ is a brilliant example of the role flavonoids - a class of polyphenol - appear to be playing in their role against heart disease.
This is the phenomenon where, despite their high intake of cholesterol and saturated fats, the French population experiences a small incidence of coronary heart disease.
Famed for their red wine consumption, the flavonoids found in France’s favourite tipple are thought to be the reason for their low rate of heart disease.
The simple fact is, older adults who eat moderate amounts of fruits and vegetables rich in these compounds are less likely to die of heart disease or stroke.
Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant phytonutrients that are responsible for the vivid colors in fruits and vegetables. They possess powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune benefits. Anthocyanins also belong under this class of phytonutrient, and will be a familiar term to readers of this newsletter.
While berries – and particularly blackcurrants – are known for their flavonoid content, other rich sources include onions, broccoli, red wine, green tea, dark chocolate and certain vegetables such as spinach, aubergines, cabbage, beans and radishes.
Based on the scientific observations, flavonoid-containing drugs have been used extensively to treat disorders of peripheral circulation and also radiation poisoning, intoxications and liver diseases.
Extensive studies have shown that flavonoids have diverse roles as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, circulation-boosters and even help regulate harmful cholesterol and reduce blood pressure in hypertensive adults.
An Australian study of older women (over 75) found that those with the highest flavonoid intake cut their risk of coronary artery disease by 73% compared to those with the lowest intakes.
So, are we eating enough of these compounds? Estimates show Europeans are consuming on average, 428mg of flavonoids per day, which is comparable to intake in Australia (454mg/day). While there is no recommended daily allowance for flavonoids, these levels are believed to be below the amounts food to have a significant health effect.
Read about the CurraNZ cardiovascular-related research:
*One capsule of CurraNZ contains 105mg anthocyanin, equivalent to eating a generous handful of fresh blackcurrants