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The World Of Flavonoids

Fruit platter with citrus fruits and berries

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are plant compounds found in almost every fruit and vegetable. Flavonoids have powerful antioxidant properties with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits

Research has found flavonoids are beneficial to long-term brain health, protecting against cognitive deterioration that can eventually result in impaired memory and executive functioning.

Food rich in flavonoids include chamomile tea, oranges, red wine, celery, lettuce, and chocolate.

Flavonoids and Food

Flavonoids are a general compound class with six subclasses including: flavonols, flavones, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, and anthocyanidins. Interestingly, researchers have found these sub-classes constitute varying levels of potency in protecting brain cells. While the bigger picture of maintaining a regular consumption of flavonoids for neuroprotection is important, it helps to be mindful of which foods in these groups pull the most weight.

Flavanones are commonly consumed through citrus— grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, etc. Studies have shown the potential of flavanones to protect and provide neural support by suppressing inflammation and inhibiting something called ß-amyloid-induced neurotoxicity, which is a pathway to Alzheimer’s and accelerated cognitive deterioration. 

Darkly pigmented foods (plums, blackberries, blueberries, red cabbage, cranberries, cherries) have high concentrations of anthocyanin. Anthocyanins can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and help regulate some of the major contributors to the pathological pathway to Alzheimer’s disease (amyloid peptide generation, oxygen species’ induced apoptosis, and mitochondrial dysfunction).

The table below displays a breakdown of the various sub-classes of flavonoids and where each respective group is found in high concentrations. 

 Flavones Flavanones Anthocyanins Flavanols Flavonols
Parsley (dried) Grapefruit Elderberry Green tea Fresh capers
Oregano (dried) Lemons Blueberries Black tea Parsley (dried)
Artichokes Limes Black currants Dark Chocolate Asparagus
Celeriac Oranges Red cabbage Red wine Rocket lettuce
Chicory Artichokes Raspberries Apples Red onions
Green pepper Oregano (dried) Chickpeas (garbanzo) Peaches Goji berries
Strawberries
Pecan nuts

 

Flavonoids can contribute enormously to brain health, and they are available in foods and some beverages. Integrating them into our everyday diets will lead to a healthy brain that’s robust enough to endure the complications of aging.

 

 

Sources

Flavonoid-rich foods (FRF): A promising nutraceutical approach against lifespan-shortening diseases. Janabi et al (2019) 

Flavonoids: an overview. Panche et al (2016)

Long-term Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Subjective Cognitive Decline in US Men and Women. Yeh et al (2021)

Anthocyanins Potentially Contribute to Defense against Alzheimer’s Disease. Afzal et al (2019).