Flavonoids, also known as vitamin P, are organic chemical compounds found naturally in green foods, herbs, fruits and vegetables. They protect cells from free radicals, prevent the growth of cancer cells and generally strengthen the immune system. They are beneficial against heart disease.
Where to find flavonoids
Flavonoid compounds are mainly found in celery, green tea, spirulina, chlorella, young barley, cabbage, broccoli, onions, wine, red wine and cocoa. Flavonoids can also be found in citrus fruits, in various parts of plants – from stems, leaves and flowers to fruits. Most of these natural dyes and antioxidants are found in the upper layers of plant tissues, which may be responsible for the colouring of the crop.
Plant sources of flavonoids
- Fruits (plums, apples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, citrus fruits, blackcurrants, chokecherries)
- vegetables (celery, parsley, broccoli, onions, garlic, leeks)
- soya and red, black or brown rice
- green tea
The best known flavonoids
Flavonoids and their effects on the human body
Flavonoid compounds act on the human body as an important antioxidant. An organism often exposed to stress and tension has a weak immune system and is susceptible to disease. With sufficient intake of flavonoids, the body is able to more easily flush out toxic substances that damage cells.
What flavonoids contain
Flavonoids include thousands of compounds, yet the list is constantly growing thanks to research. These compounds are soluble in water. They can be found in almost all plant cells. Flavonoids are colouring agents that give plants their typical colour.
In plants, they are contained together with vitamin C. In addition to the antioxidant properties already mentioned, they have an antibacterial effect on the human body and promote the production of hormones. With a higher intake of flavonoids, the risk of cardiovascular disease is even reduced.
Flavonoids and bioflavonoids
Flavonoids are found in plants in the form of dyes such as flavanones, flavanols, flavonols, chalcones, auroras, isoflavones, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins in vegetables, fruits, grains, leaves and tree bark. Of the flavonoids, flavones and flavonols are the most important as natural dyes.
Bioflavonoids have a significant antioxidant effect. Compared to vitamin C and E up to 50 times greater. Bioflavonoids contained in dark red grapes have a 1,000 times greater activity in suppressing LDL cholesterol oxidation.
Bioflavonoids and antioxidants are divided into groups in relation to their effect of vitamin C, with which some of them act synergistically. This is a group of flavonoids called vitamin C2. Together with vitamin C, they act as a C-complex.
Some herbs, plants and fruits are good to combine with each other to increase the effect of bioflavonoids. Various combinations of these fruits and herbs are part of therapeutic mixtures for particular health ailments. These are combinations of raspberry, cranberry, blueberry, hawthorn, the white part of the pericarp of lemon and orange. Flavonoid complex – hesperidin contains buckwheat navel, juniper leaf, red wine dye, rose hips, blackcurrant fruit, blackcurrant fruit, acerola fruit, elderberry fruit and flower, licorice root, ginkgo biloba leaf, raspberry leaf, blackberry leaf, mint leaf, etc.
Flavonoids and their effects
- have antioxidant effects
- support immunity
- increase the effectiveness of vitamin A, E and betacarotene
- prevents the multiplication of intestinal pathogens
- protects against atherosclerosis
- prevents stomach ulcers and cancer
- protects liver cells
- prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol by free radicals
- prevents blood clotting
Clinical effects of flavonoids
Anti-sclerotic effect – the first significant clinical effect of flavonoids is the anti-sclerotic effect. Flavonoids eliminate the negative effect of oxygen free radicals, which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and subsequent coronary heart disease.
Anti-tumour effect – free oxygen radicals, produced by oxidative stress processes, damage DNA and the subsequent division of damaged cells can lead to mutations. Flavonoids act as a beneficial mechanism here and can inhibit the development of cancer at various levels.
Anti-inflammatory effect – flavonoids suppress the inflammatory mechanism through several different metabolic pathways.
Several thousand different flavonoids are known today. However, they have one thing in common. The basis of their chemical structure is flavone or isoflavones. These connect to other chemical structures. In addition to flavonoids, phytochemicals or polyphenols of the non-flavonoid type play an important role in protecting human health. The best known of these is resveratrol. It is mainly found in the skin and seeds of various fruits – for example, grapes. It is particularly well known for its antioxidant activity.
Flavonoids in the treatment of pancreatic cancer
Regular consumption of flavonoids helps in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. Researchers from the University of Illinois came up with this finding. Although products high in these compounds do not cure cancer, they are very useful in their treatment and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy if taken at the same time. For this reason, flavonoids are further researched and used in drug development.
Flavonoids and interesting facts about them
Flavonoids are undoubtedly the most extensive group of plant antioxidants. They include over 5,000 different derivatives. They have been extensively researched, so their list is constantly growing. Phenolics in the plant kingdom are made up of a very diverse group of polyphenolic compounds and are found in all plant cells.