Flavonoids and Antioxidants

New research is revealing additional sources of flavonoid antioxidants in food... and they're turning up in things you might actually consume.
By Kristina Mastrocola
February/March 2001
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Foods that you love may actually be better than you thought.
Photo courtesy marilyn barbone/Fotolia

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Dr. George L. Hosfield, research geneticist at Michigan State University, is finding the flavonoids in bean-seed coats particularly high in antioxidants. This is good news for those who eat beans, since flavonoids are phytochemicals ripe with antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and possibly even retard the aging process. "Beans are the best plant food there is," Hosfield says. "They have less than 2% fat and are very high in minerals." Other foods with phytochemical power include such familiar staples as garlic, tomatoes, apples and blueberries.

Flavonoids are also turning up in some guilty pleasures. According to findings published in the August issue of The Journal of Nutrition, the flavonoids in chocolate — called epicatechins — may in hibit the oxidization of low-density lipopro teins (LDL) in the blood, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.

Dr. Donald Buhler of Oregon State University is finding that the hops in beer may also protect against heart disease along with stroke and cancer. "We were surprised that the flavonoids in hops were as active as they are," says Buhler. If you want the most from your hops, however, you would have to drink 450 liters of beer a day. The less fanatical will have to wait for the pharmaceutical industry to find a way to pack the power a pint into a pill. But then again...

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