Bioflavonoids help reduce inflammation, boost overall health

Diets that regularly include bioflavonoid-rich foods have been associated with longevity and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and neurogenerative diseases.

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Fruits, vegetables and plants are primary sources of bioflavonoids.

Fruits, vegetables and plants are primary sources of bioflavonoids.

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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 types have been identified, with more likely to be discovered in the future.

Bioflavonoids include isoflavonoids, flavanones, flavonols, flavanols, flavones and anthocyanidins.

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 scavenge harmful free radicals. Their protective qualities are the reason they are produced by plants — self-protection against environmental insults.

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 might 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. If you eat a diet rich in bioflavonoids, you should get plenty, plus 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 also might improve absorption, though studies have shown that high levels of protein in the diet might actually decrease their availability.

It would be virtually impossible to take enough supplements to get all of the thousands of bioflavonoids found naturally in foods. So make bioflavonoid-rich foods a regular part of your daily diet to get the amazing array of bioflavonoids and vitamin C.

Environmental Nutrition is an independent newsletter written by nutrition experts.

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