High-Flavonoid Foods Boost Heart Health
If you’ve ever heard that vibrantly colored foods are better for you, a new study confirms this is true. Flavonoids, compounds found in brightly colored foods such as blueberries, plums, red apples, spinach, dark chocolate and red wine, help to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke among older adults.
Researchers conducted a seven-year longitudinal study of 98,000 adults with an average age of seventy. Throughout the time period, participants were given questionnaires asking them about diet, lifestyle and medical history. At the end of the seven years, the research team divided the sample population into five groups based on the amount of high-flavonoid foods they ate.
According to Marjorie McCullough, lead author and nutritional epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, those whose diets contained the highest number of servings of flavonoid-rich foods decreased their risk of death due to heart attack or stroke by twenty percent, even accounting for other risk factors such as smoking and exercise. In addition, those participants who had average flavonoid intake were found to carry a reduced risk of disease, demonstrating that an extra daily plum or handful of berries can reap large benefits.
In order to diversify your flavonoid consumption, Dr. McCullough and her colleagues recommend that people eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as adding in dark chocolate and nuts. There are a number of flavonoids that are essential to heart and general health, but researchers are still trying to determine if the compounds alone are contributing to wellness. Future studies will consider the interaction of these fruits and vegetables between flavonoids and other molecules.
Flavonoids have been linked to a reduction in a wide range of ailments, so make sure to add foods rich in these compounds to your diet. As it turns out, an apple a day may just keep the doctor away.