We all know that it is healthy to eat more vegetables and fruit but many do not know why. These foods contain fiber, vitamins and minerals but above all they provide phytonutrients , a complex category of substances of plant origin that protect us from free radicals, inflammation and in general from damage at cellular levels. Flavonoids are the largest and most important category of phytonutrients.
Flavonoids are natural substances found in fruit, vegetables, tea, coffee, wine and which have antioxidant and cell damage repair properties that make them useful for preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease and degenerative diseases in general.
Over 4,000 types of flavonoids have been identified and most foods that contain flavonoids contain more than one.
There are various subclasses of flavonoids with different effects and contained in different foods.
Where they are and what benefits they bring
|Anthocyanins||Berries, cherries, red grapes, red onions,||Strengthen antioxidant capacities, preserve brain functions.|
|Protoanthocyanidins||Green tea, cocoa, apples, red grapes, cranberries, red wine||They have anti-inflammatory properties, promote the health of the vessels and the urinary tract, skin elasticity and blood circulation.|
|Flavanones||Fruits of the citrus genus such as grapefruit with naringin (best known specimen of this category)||They protect against oxidative stress, increase cellular defenses.|
|Flavonols||Yellow onions, cabbage, broccoli, tea, apples (the best known substance is Quercitin)||They protect against oxidative stress from excess free radicals, increase antioxidant defenses and reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.|
|Flavones||Chilli, parsley, celery, thyme.||Regulate the effects of estrogen.|
As we have seen, flavonoids are fundamental building blocks of a healthy diet that strengthens our body and protects it from damage that accumulates over time. Let’s see specifically some of the more specific actions of this category of nutrients.
- Circulation: flavonoids are essential for protecting the endothelium, the delicate inner layer of blood vessels on which inflammation acts, giving life to atherosclerotic plaque over time.
- Pregnancy: as with many other substances, also for flavonoids, care must be taken between intake in the diet with food and as supplements. During pregnancy, every supplement must be examined by the doctor.
- As drugs and as supplements : flavonoids are marketed both as drugs (even if completely natural) and as supplements. Some products, for example, for circulation and varicose veins are registered as drugs while others as antioxidants are considered supplements.
- Hemorrhoids: one of the best known uses of flavonoids is in managing hemorrhoids which are vascular diseases with an inflammatory basis that can be at least partially reduced by flavonoids.
- Prostate: the prostate is an organ susceptible to inflammatory processes and also to the direct action of estrogen, hormones also present in men. The anti-inflammatory and estrogen modulation action of flavonoids can help maintain prostatic health.
- Cholesterol: flavonoids reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, a process that involves an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are essential for our health and are present in a wide variety of natural foods. There are no contraindications to the regular intake of flavonoids with the diet. Their increased intake with supplements, useful in many contexts, must be recommended by the doctor and should be avoided during pregnancy.
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