Senior Health

8/5/2022 | By Densie Webb

Dietitian Densie Webb of Environmental Nutrition looks at bioflavonoids: what they are, how they affect health, and the best ways to include them in a daily diet – including bioflavonoid supplements.

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 different types have been identified with even more likely to be discovered in the future. They include isoflavonoids, flavanones, flavonols, flavanols, flavones and anthocyanidins.

Bioflavonoids and health

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 these substances to reduce the risk of several diseases is due to their ability to reduce inflammation, boost the body’s immune response, and to scavenge harmful free radicals. Their protective qualities are the reason they are produced by plants – self-protection against environmental insults.

Supplements or food

produce at farmers market - Photo by Tdogh2004, Dreamstime. A look at bioflavonoids: what they are, how they affect health, and how to include them in a daily diet – including bioflavonoid supplements.

Bioflavonoid supplements are available in a wide range of combinations and dosages. Many of these 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 may simply say “bioflavonoids,” without listing the specific ones 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. However, if you eat a diet rich in these substances, you should get plenty, as well as 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 may also improve absorption. On the other hand, studies have shown that high levels of protein in the diet may decrease their availability.

It would be virtually impossible to take enough supplements to get all the thousands of bioflavonoids found naturally in foods. Instead, make bioflavonoid-rich foods a regular part of your daily diet and you’ll get the amazing array of these dietary gems plus absorption-enhancing vitamin C.

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Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.

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Densie Webb