Bravo for Bioflavonoids!

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By Natasha Turner, ND

“Bioflavonoids” is a much-used buzzword in the world of supplements, and rightfully so. These natural pigments give plants their bright colours and are truly bursting with health benefits.

Hundreds of bioflavonoids have been identified, all with their complete therapeutic effects. Some examples include citrus bioflavonoids, soy isoflavones, proanthocyanidins (found in red wine and grapeseed), flavanols (present in cocoa, tea, and grapeseed), and quercitin (found in onions, tea, and berries).

As a group, bioflavonoids share similarities in their anti-inflammatory, antiaging, and antioxidant effects, but many also possess health benefits beyond these protective measures as they have been shown to be anticancer and to promote circulatory wellness.

Bioflavonoids work with other antioxidants, especially vitamin C, to improve their health promoting effects and cellular protection. Diets high in bioflavonoids are associated with lower incidences of osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and heart disease. Knowing this, our national health organizations advocate ten to twelve servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Ease Allergies

Although onions cause our eyes to water, they contain an ingredient that is useful in treating watery or itchy eyes, asthma, and hay fever. Quercitin, the bioflavonoid found in onions, is an effective inhibitor of histamine release from mast cells, the cause of allergic reactions. Also, acting as a natural antiviral compound, quercitin can help to prevent herpes outbreaks and the common cold.

Improve Hormonal Balance

Soy contains many types of isoflavones, but the most beneficial are genistein and daidzein. The highest amounts of isoflavones are found in soy nuts and tempeh. Isoflavones are currently the subject of intense research because of their effects on hormone-related disorders such as breast and prostate cancers.

The chemical structure of isoflavones is very similar to that of our own estrogen. Because of this similarity in structure, isoflavones can influence the action of estrogen. Sometimes the effect of estrogen may be reduced because of competition with the estrogen receptor sites on our cells.

In this manner, some of the risks of excess estrogen may be lowered, but isoflavones may also be helpful during menopause as the body’s natural level of estrogen drops. Although studies are inconsistent, isoflavones have been shown to compensate for estrogen deficiency by binding to some estrogen receptor sites, thereby potentially easing menopause symptoms.

Vein Health

Citrus bioflavonoids, rutin and hesperidin, are part of a group that function synergistically with vitamin C to maintain healthy capillaries, encourage wound healing via the formation of collagen in connective tissue, and support a healthy immune system.

Clinical testing has proven the benefits of citrus bioflavonoids in treating diseases of the blood vessels and lymph system, including hemorrhoids, chronic venous insufficiency, leg ulcers, easy bruising, nosebleeds, and lymphedema following breast cancer surgery.

Cardiovascular Health

Proanthocyanidins, present in grapeseed extract and red wine, have beneficial effects on the circulatory system and may offer protection against stroke, high cholesterol, and heart disease. The circulatory effects also aid eye health, the skin, and the aging process overall.

Cancer Protection

Green tea polyphenols inhibit cancer by blocking the formation of cancer-causing compounds and suppressing the activation of carcinogens. The major polyphenols in green tea are flavonoids (catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate, and proanthocyanidins). The polyphenols found in green tea are potent antioxidant compounds that have demonstrated greater antioxidant protection than vitamins C and E.

Digesting the facts about bioflavonoids will allow you to determine the best choices to match your needs so that your next trip to the health food store can be an informed one.

Best Bets for Bioflavonoids

In essence, bioflavonoids can allow your body to age well. Your best food choices to increase bioflavonoid consumption are:

  • citrus fruits
  • parsley
  • berries
  • green tea
  • onions
  • legumes
  • red wine
  • cocoa (in dark, organic chocolate)
  • soy products–tofu, tempeh, soy milk

 

About the Author

Natasha Turner, ND, practises in Toronto at Midtown Health and Wellness Clinic, specializing in hormonal issues, weight loss, preventive health, and digestive complaints. She is also the VP of Natural Medicine for Truestarhealth.com.

Source: Bravo for Bioflavonoids – Alive 
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