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Flavorful Ways to Get Flavonoids--and Live Longer in the Process

These powerful antioxidants have been shown to prolong life
Flavorful Ways to Get Flavonoids--and Live Longer in the Process: Main Image
A new study found that drinking red wine and eating apples, strawberries, and even chocolate might prevent heart disease
If you thought that everything that tastes good is bad for you, here is good news: a study found that drinking red wine and eating apples, strawberries, and even chocolate might prevent heart disease and postpone death.

What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are compounds found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grain fiber such as in bran, tea, wine, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Many flavonoids are strong antioxidants, which are believed to prevent atherosclerosis by reducing damage to the cells that line the blood vessels. Some flavonoids have other beneficial properties, including anti-inflammatory effects and clot prevention.

Disease-fighting power

The report used data from the Iowa Women's Health Study, in which more than 34,000 postmenopausal women between 55 and 69 years old answered questionnaires about diet and other factors related to cardiac risk and stroke risk.

The women's diets were analyzed for total flavonoid content as well as for seven specific types of flavonoids:

  • Anthocyanidins--found in blueberries, raspberries, and red wine

  • Flavanones--found in oranges, grapefruit, and lemons

  • Flavones--found in parsley and celery

The women whose diets contained high amounts of anthocyanidins were less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, and from any other cause than those who got little or didn't get any. Flavanone intake was linked to lower risk of death due to coronary heart disease, and flavone intake to lower risk of death for any reason.

Get more in your meals

Specific foods reduced risk of death from heart disease, stroke, and all causes. Try some of the following suggestions to get more of these foods in your diet:

  • Eating bran, apples, pears, strawberries, red wine, and chocolate protected the women against death from cardiovascular disease.

Recipes to try--Banana Berry Nog, Fruited Couscous Salad with Chicken

  • Eating apples, pears, red wine, and grapefruit protected them against death from coronary heart disease.

Recipes to try--Pear and Brie Quesadillas, Grilled Apple Chicken

  • Adding bran to food prevented death from stroke.

Recipes to try--Granola on the Go

  • Chocolate, though the effect was small, was found to prevent cardiovascular disease-related deaths.

Recipes to try--Chocolate of the Gods Mousse with Raspberries and Mint, Nondairy Hot Cocoa

The study's authors speculated that, as information about food make-up becomes more precise, we will learn more about the effects of specific food compounds on health and disease. In the meantime, tasty ways to work in more flavonoids abound. Enjoy!

(Am J Public Health 2006;96:1815-20)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
 
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