The key nutrient to prevent disease and extend your life

A new study that involved more than 50,000 participants over two decades concludes that eating foods rich in flavonoids could prevent disease, improve health and prolong life.

A group of scientists from Edith Cowan University in Australia recently set out to investigate whether flavonoids can really prolong life and protect health. These are a class of chemicals called polyphenols present in a variety of natural foods, which include fruits, vegetables, dark chocolate, red wine and tea. Some of its subclasses are flavonols, anthocyanins or isoflavones.

The document, which now appears in the journal Nature Communications, describes its findings. The authors write that their main objective was "to investigate the association of the total intake of flavonoids and subclasses of flavonoids with all causes, mortality related to cardiovascular disease and cancer." On the other hand, another purpose was to verify how lifestyle-related factors, such as alcohol consumption or smoking, affected the benefits derived from flavonoids.

Previous short-term studies revealed that these nutrients improved cardiovascular health markers, while other documents have described a possible anti-cancer role for flavonoids. However, it was incomplete evidence that required additional research to establish the specific role of flavonoid subclasses and determine the specific dose necessary to achieve maximum benefit.

To investigate, the scientists took data from the Denmark Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. In total 56,048 adults participated. During the 23-year follow-up, 14,083 of the participants died.After controlling a variety of factors, the authors conclude that an attainable dietary intake of subclasses of total and individual flavonoids is associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes related to cancer. or cardiovascular problems.

Specifically, they found that those people who consumed about 500 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids every day had the lowest risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. Above the threshold of 500 mg, there was no additional benefit. The scientists also analyzed the impact of each of the six types of flavonoids. They found the same effect in all areas.

“It is important to consume a variety of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant-based foods and beverages. This can easily be achieved through diet: a cup of tea, an apple, an orange, 100 grams of blueberries and 100 grams of broccoli provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and more than 500 mg of total flavonoids. ”

The researchers found that the benefits of flavonoids were particularly pronounced in participants who currently smoked and consumed more than two alcoholic beverages per day. These participants saw the greatest benefits.

Bondonno explains that “the consumption of flavonoids does not counteract all the greatest risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption. By far, the best thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. ”

Alcohol and tobacco increase inflammation levels and damage blood vessels. However, "flavonoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer." Ideally, lead your life to healthy habits, incorporating foods rich in flavonoids in the diet.