Did you know there’s something you do multiple times each and every day that could help improve your health, wellness and memory? Research shows that eating flavonoid-rich foods could help protect your brain and even help with other areas of your overall health. If you’re asking yourself, “What foods contain flavonoids?” and “What foods are high in flavonoids?” This blog post can help. It will define flavonoids, discuss their benefits and show you what foods contain flavonoids.
What are Flavonoids?
Flavonoids is a term for a group of potent natural antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables. There are six types of flavonoids: Anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, flavanones, flavones and isoflavones. Flavonols are the type of flavonoids most common in our diets.
Research by Harvard Medical School, has shown some flavonoids appear to have protective effects on the brain:
- Flavones are associated with a 38% lower risk for self-reported cognitive decline
- Flavanones have a 36% lower risk for self-reported cognitive decline
- Anthocyanins have a 24% lower risk for self-reported cognitive decline
Benefits of Eating Food High in Flavonoids
One of the important contributors to cognitive decline is damage to the brain’s blood supply. People’s brain functions begin to decline in our 20s and 30s, but we usually don’t notice it until we reach our 70s. But the anti-inflammatory properties of flavonoids could help protect our brain’s blood supply, which in turn makes the downward slope less steep.
Foods high in flavonoids can help:
- Manage high blood pressure
- Lower your risk of heart attack or stroke and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes
- Decrease your risk of getting certain cancers
- Fight inflammation
- Keep blood vessels healthy
- Increase the production of chemicals that repair brain cells, strengthen their connections, promote new brain cell growth and enlarge the size of your hippocampus
In fact, after adjusting for age, total food intake, major nondietary factors and specific dietary factors, a higher intake of total flavonoids has been associated with lower odds of Subjective Cognitive Decline.
How Much Flavonoid-Rich Foods Should You Eat Per Day?
The amount of flavonoids in the foods you eat can vary greatly; many fruits and vegetables contain several types of flavonoids, along with many other phytochemicals (chemical compounds produced by plants). So instead of trying to track a certain amount of flavonoids, you should just aim to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Recent evidence suggests that the most effective combination is two servings of fruits plus three servings of vegetables per day.
According to the Harvard Medical School study, the top 20 flavonoid-rich foods most associated with beneficial cognitive effects, listed from strongest to weakest, are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Raw spinach
- Yams/sweet potatoes
- Yellow/orange winter squash
- Cooked spinach
- Cooked carrots
- Tomato juice
- Green/red/yellow peppers
- Tomato sauce
- Romaine lettuce
What About Flavonoid Supplements?
Flavonoids are made up of around 6,000 compounds so it’s difficult to know if the positive properties of flavonoid-rich diets can be replaced by purified flavonoids supplements. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), plant sources of flavonoids contain a complex mixture of secondary plant metabolites, not just flavonoids alone. This complex mixture of secondary plant metabolites can’t be simply exchanged by single purified compounds as dietary supplements. The NIH report also cautions that if flavonoids supplements are taken, potential toxicity issues, as well as potential nutrient/drug interactions, need to be taken into account. If you’re considering a flavonoid supplement, consult with your health care provider first.
We Offer the Essential Ingredients for a Happier, Healthier Life
At Holly Hall, one important aspect of both physical and social health is enjoying a good meal with friends and neighbors. That’s why our dining experience offers lots of delicious menu options prepared by our culinary team to help meet your health and wellness goals. To learn more or to come see our senior living community for yourself, contact us here.