Flavonoids are plant compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods – so can flavonoid-rich foods improve heart health? Find out.
According to a recent study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, a diet high in flavonoids may lower your heart disease risk. “This is just one of many, many studies that have shown a reduction in cardiovascular risk with eating more of a plant-based diet that’s rich in flavanoids,” says Janice Friswold, RD, LD, a registered dietitian, and diabetes educator at University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH, who was not involved in the study.
“Some studies on flavonoids have also shown other benefits, such as reduction of cancer risk or cognitive decline, so there’s nothing but good stuff to say about these things.”
Flavonoids and Their Benefits
Flavonoids are a type of plant compound that work as antioxidants and can be found in fruits, vegetables, spices, tea, and other plant-based foods. “Eating a diet high in flavonoid-rich foods is really important,” says Friswold. “I generally don’t recommend that people take [flavonoid] supplements because we know there’s over 6,000 different phytochemicals in the flavonoid group, and we’ve isolated a few of them, but who knows which is the magic combination.”
The researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia analyzed the effects of eating flavonoid-rich foods on older white women. According to their results, older women with higher total flavonoid intake were 36% less likely to experience extensive AAC than women with lower flavonoid intake. AAC (abdominal aortic calcification) increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and late-life dementia.
While the study does suggest potential health benefits from flavonoid-rich foods, there were limitations. “What we don’t know is whether participants have been following the same diet for years or if they used to be on a different diet and have recently become healthier,” says Dr. Johanna Contreras, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY. “My question is – if I change my diet to eat healthy starting tomorrow, will I get this benefit? Or is this a benefit that participants had because they’ve been eating like that for a long time?”
Friswold also pointed out that the study focused solely on AAC and not calcification in other arteries. “Just because a person has aortic calcification doesn’t mean they have calcification in their main coronary arteries,” says Friswold. “So nowadays, we’re doing a CT calcium score, which looks at the three main arteries to see if there’s calcification there.”
Supporting Your Health
While this study does have its limitations, it builds on a large body of evidence that supports the benefits flavonoids have on heart health. In fact, eating more fruits and vegetables will boost your health, regardless of whether flavonoids play a role or not.
In addition to improving your diet and filling it with flavonoid-rich foods, you can give your health an extra boost by taking L-arginine Plus. As a heart-health supplement, it promotes circulation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and overall heart health. Give your heart the support it deserves by eating some flavonoid-rich foods and taking L-arginine Plus.