Flavonoids are a non-nutrient group of substances found in plants. They are divided into six groups: catechins, flavones, flavonols, flavanones, anthocyanins and isoflavonoids. .
Flavonoids are chemicals present in plants that help to produce colour in fruits and petals as well as helping to provide a defence system against UV radiation, fungi, bacteria and insects. Flavonoids may play a role in disease prevention in humans. These health benefits may be due, in part, to the antioxidant properties of Flavonoids. Antioxidants are substances that neutralise damaging chemicals in the body such as free radicals, which are thought to contribute to a number of diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer, degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease as well as premature ageing. Flavonoids have also been found to help the body fight viruses and decrease allergic reactions. There is abundant evidence to support the role of Flavonoids in disease prevention: a high dietary intake of the Flavonoid quercetin is related to a reduced risk of heart disease. The Flavonoid rutin has been found to help prevent stomach ulcers by protecting the stomach lining.
Flavonoids have also been shown to reduce the 'stickiness' of blood platelets and thus reduce the formation of blood clots, which reduces the risks of certain cardiovascular diseases. The isoflavone Flavonoids in soy products may help to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the side effects of menopause by acting as oestrogen-like substances. Flavonoids are found in a wide range of foods, including black tea, dark chocolate, onions, soy products and red wine.
NOTESThere are a wide range of Flavonoid dietary supplements available. Always consult your health care professional for advice on dosages and interactions before taking any Flavonoid supplements. Some Flavonoids have toxic effects (e.g. gastrointestinal upset and allergic reactions), particularly when taken in large amounts.