New Study Reveals the Protective Properties of Flavonoids
As if you need one more reason to love pecans! Did you know pecans are rich in flavonoids, which are phytonutrients responsible for a fruit or vegetable’s color? According to the USDA, pecans contain the highest amount of flavonoids of any tree nut.
Flavonoids are found in almost every fruit and vegetable. Like other phytonutrients, they’re powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting benefits.
Flavonoids Protect Against Certain Conditions
This is extremely important. A recent study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) reveals that a flavonoid-rich diet may protect against cancer and heart disease, especially in heavy drinkers and smokers.
ECU researchers analyzed data from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort, which assessed the diets of 53,048 Danes over 23 years. They found those who consistently consume moderate to high amounts of flavonoid-rich foods, like apples, tea and pecans, were less likely to die from cancer and heart disease.
However, researchers discovered something even more interesting. While everyone who ate flavonoid-rich foods had a lower risk of death from cancer or heart disease, the link was strongest for those at high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
Those consuming about 500mg of total flavonoids each day were at the lowest risk of cancer or heart disease-related deaths. Lead researcher Dr. Nicola Bondonno stresses the importance of eating a variety of flavonoid-rich foods:
"This is easily achievable through the diet: one cup of tea, one apple, one orange, 100g of blueberries, and 100g of broccoli would provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and over 500mg of total flavonoids.”
Like other phytonutrients, subgroups of flavonoids exist, each with unique health benefits. Pecans contain flavanols and anthocyanins, which are associated with heart health, antioxidant effects, weight maintenance, diabetes prevention, lowering cholesterol and neurological health, as well as aiding in chronic fatigue syndrome.
Despite the clear link between flavonoid consumption and a lower risk of heart disease and cancer, researchers still don’t understand exactly how flavonoids protect against these conditions. Dr. Bondonno suggests that flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and improve blood vessel function, protect against the increased risk of inflammation and blood vessel damage from alcohol consumption and smoking.
Pass the Pecans, Please
No matter the reason, one thing is clear: it’s time to start eating more flavonoid-rich foods, STAT! A flavonoid-rich diet leads to better health down the road, and a lower risk of cancer and heart disease-related deaths. Pecans are rich in flavonoids, which could contribute to their various health benefits. Pass the pecan butter and apples over here, please.