Flavonoids are polyphenolic chemical compounds of plant origin, and their biological activity is used in the treatment of various diseases. They are commonly found in vegetables and fruit. They are responsible for the colour of plants and perform many other important functions. They should be provided in an adequate amount in the diet to fully use their health potential.
Flavonoids (also known as flavonoids, bioflavonoids or flavones) are natural compounds produced by plants. Several thousand flavonoids have been identified in plant sources and new ones are still being discovered. They have antiallergic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and additionally dilate the vessels and inhibit lipid peroxidation.
Depending on the structural transformations, flavonoid compounds are divided into classes:
– Flavonols (quercetin, fistein, kaempferol, myricetin, morine)
– Flavanols (catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin)
– Flavanones (naringin, naringenin, hesperetin, hesperidin)
– Isoflavones (genistein, daidzein)
– Anthocyanins (cyanidin, malvidin, pelargonidin)
– Flavones (luteolin, apigenin, diosmetin).
The above compounds are pervasive in plants and therefore they are an important element of the human diet. It is estimated that we consume about 1 g of flavonoid compounds each day.
Large amounts of flavonoids are found in fruit, vegetables and herbs. All parts of plants contain them, while the greatest amounts are found in the surface layers of plants, e.g. in the peel and directly under the peel of the fruit. Their content in fruits and vegetables depends mainly on environmental factors such as sunlight, temperature, and degree of ripeness.
Rich sources of flavonoids in the diet are:
– Red and navy blue fruit – chokeberry, black currant, blackberry, pomegranate, raspberry, blueberry, huckleberry, elderberry, strawberry;
– Citrus fruits – orange, grapefruit, lemon;
– Other fruits: rosehip, sea buckthorn, hawthorn fruit, apple;
– Vegetables: red beet, broccoli, onion, tomato, red cabbage, eggplant, garlic, red pepper, lettuce, kale, celery, parsley;
– Legume seeds: beans, peas, soybeans;
– Spices and herbs, e.g. young pepper, rosemary.
Flavonoids have many properties valuable to health. They have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antiatherosclerotic properties, and are also strong antioxidants. In addition, they show diuretic properties, lower blood pressure, and support liver function. They also strengthen the immune system, as well as the functioning of the entire circulatory system.
• Obesity, metabolic syndrome
Obesity is currently one of the most common diseases in the world. The consequences of being overweight can be very grave. One of the important steps in the therapy is a lifestyle change and a healthy diet. Studies show that flavonoids improve anthropometric parameters in obesity, lipid metabolism, and glucose metabolism. Include flavonoids in the diet to make sure it is a healthy one.
Atherosclerosis is a multi-factorial disease with complex pathogenesis. Studies have shown that flavonoids reduce the inflammatory reaction that occurs in atherosclerotic processes in blood vessels.
• Cardiovascular disease
Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in flavonoids has a positive effect on the condition of the circulatory system. Plant compounds make the vessels more flexible, strengthen them, and hinder the clumping of blood platelets.
• Oxidative stress
The proper functioning of the human body is determined by the oxidant-antioxidant balance. Excess oxidative stress is the reason for the development of many diseases, especially civilization ones. Environmental pollution, stress, lack of physical activity and a bad diet are responsible for the increased production of free radicals. Research suggests that flavonoids can help reduce the severity of inflammatory processes, thereby stop the development of many diseases. They are one of the most effective natural antioxidants. They protect the body cells against damage and unfavorable changes.
Diabetes is one of the most common social diseases, according to research. One of the negative complications of diabetes are changes in the vascular system. Oxidative stress, which is effectively eliminated by flavonoids, also contributes to the formation of multidirectional disorders in diabetes.
Currently, cancer is a serious health problem. Research confirms that the risk of cancer in humans decreases as the consumption of flavonoids increases.
Consuming flavonoids in their natural form, from plants, has a stronger effect on the body than the supplementation of pure, isolated flavonoid compounds. It is related to the so-called synergistic effect – one component enhances the properties of the other. When used alone, the ingredients may be less effective than when used together.
Flavonoids are an important part of a healthy diet and we should eat them in sufficient amount every day. According to the latest studies, flavonoids can support the treatment of many health disorders. Vegetables and fruit are the best sources of them, so let’s eat them regularly.
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