There are so many different kinds of plants on this beautiful, generous planet. And if there are lots of plants, that must mean there are lots of plant foods. That’s good news for hungry humans. It’s especially exciting to know there are almost endless amounts of nutrients in plant foods. One of the most beneficial categories of plant nutrients is flavonoids polyphenols.
Flavonoids are a group of differing natural plant chemicals (also referred to as phytonutrients). In fact, you can find phytonutrients in almost all fruits and vegetables — almost. A fun fact about flavonoids is that, like their sister phytonutrients, carotenoids, they’re the reason most fruits and veggies pop with vivid color.
Care to discover even more information about flavonoids? Read on to learn about one of nature’s favorite natural compounds.
What Are Flavonoids?
Now, like many of the different phytonutrients out there in the botanical world, flavonoids are pretty powerful antioxidants. Along with phenolic acids, flavonoids have the potential to fend off free radicals and the oxidative stress they can cause.2,3
The following plant foods make up just a small selection of natural foods filled to the brim with flavonoids: onions, green tea, kale, red wine, Brussels sprouts, lemons, and limes.
But did you know that flavonoids also happen to be the most significant category of phytonutrients? It’s true — there are over 6,000 different kinds of flavonoids.4
The Flavonoid Family
Believe it or not, the use of polyphenols like flavonoids, lignans, and aglycones have been utilized by practitioners of Eastern medicinal techniques for centuries as a natural way to help support the health of your skin, mind, and blood pressure.5
The flavonoid family includes such members as anthocyanidins, flavonols, flavanones, and isoflavones. (Sounds like a band from the 1950s or 60s, right? “And now, with your favorite tunes about health and nutrition, The Isoflavones.”)
Each flavonoid group has its strengths, potential for health benefits, and bioavailability in different foods. In fact, the glycosylation of flavonoids can actually increase their water solubility (which also increases their bioavailability).6
If you’re interested in finding out more about the different types of polyphenols, here’s a quick and easy breakdown of the most common flavonoids:
- Flavonols — This is one of the most widely distributed categories of flavonoids. Famous flavonols include quercetin and azaleatin. These flavonoids occur in leeks, kale, broccoli, onions, green tea, and berries.
- Flavones — Flavones are linked to several different types of antioxidant benefits and can be found in celery, parsley, and lots of different herbs.
- Isoflavones — You’ll find the polyphenols genistein and glycitein in this flavonoid subgroup. Isoflavones are also known as phytoestrogens which means that their natural chemicals act similarly to the hormone estrogen.
- Flavanones — This group of flavonoids exists in abundance in citrus fruits like lemons and lines. Flavanones include hesperetin and hesperidin and are often associated with the potential to support heart health and relaxation.
- Anthocyanidins — If you want to load up on this flavonoid, try increasing your intake of blueberries (when in-season) or add a glass of adult grape juice (aka red wine) to your nightly meal (Remember no more than 6oz, and if you don’t drink, don’t start). Anthocyanidins have been known to help support your heart health and maybe even assist in the effort to lose weight.7,8,9
What May Be Some Of The Best Foods To Fight Aging?
Of course, many people are interested in foods and supplements that can help fight the process of aging and keep them living healthier lives for a larger number of years.
One of the best rules of thumb when it comes to consuming flavonoids is to eat the plant food raw and while it’s still fresh. Or, try to freeze it if you’re not going to get to it sometime soon. That’s because cooking (or improperly storing) certain foods may change their flavonoid content.
Take onions, for instance. If you store an onion at room temperature, it can lose a significant portion of flavonoids in under 14 days. If you glance at your fresh fruits and veggies and they seem to lose their brightness, chances are your food is also losing its flavonoids.
Flavonoid-rich foods are essentially superfoods. While green tea, in-season fruit, vegetables, Gundry-approved nuts, and red wine are high in flavonoids, there are other foods you may not realize are also high in their flavonoid content. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Citrus fruits
- Macadamia nuts
- Dandelion greens
- Mesclun greens
- Mustard greens
Types Of Polyphenols
At the end of the day, there are many different kinds of polyphenols, but flavonoids go a long way when it comes to supporting your health. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to easily and affordably up your flavonoid game.
In fact, increasing your flavonoid intake might be just the excuse you’re looking for to add a 1-ounce chunk of 72% (or greater) dark chocolate to your daily menu.11
While a well-balanced diet means including things like essential fatty acids and dietary fiber, don’t forget to also include foods chock full of good-for-you polyphenols like flavonoids. Here’s one final way to try to get your flavonoids.
Consider making your own salad for dinner tonight. But instead of tossing together your old standbys of just lettuce and dressing, load it up with flavonoid-rich ingredients. Toss in some grilled onions, add a little more flavor with cilantro, and dress your salad with olive oil and a lemon squeeze. You can even sprinkle a few roasted pistachios on top. Not only will your meal be bursting with flavonoids, but it’ll also be just delicious.