Drinking tea and eating apples, or any flavonoid-rich foods, can shield people from cancer and heart disease, new research finds.
People who have a daily consumption of 500 mg of flavonoids are more likely to live longer and more healthily.
If you eat one orange, one apple, 100 g of broccoli and 100 g of blueberries and have a cup of tea per day, you are guaranteed to obtain 500 mg of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are antioxidants and part of the polyphenol class found in plants and known to have several health benefits and help prevent various diseases.
Apples, cherries, dark chocolate, pears, tea, red wine (due to grapes), cabbage, and berries, including blueberries and strawberries, are good sources of flavonoids.
The discovery of flavonoids’ protective effect on lowering risk of some diseases comes from a new study that looked into the diets of 53,048 Danes over 23 years.
Dr Nicola Bondonno, the study’s lead author, said:
“It’s important to consume a variety of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant based food and drink.
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”.
They found that those who ate flavonoid-rich foods were protected against cardiovascular and cancer-related diseases.
They also found that daily intake of flavonoid-rich foods had the most protective effect for heavy drinkers and smokers.
These smokers or those who had two standard alcoholic drinks per day were at higher risk of chronic diseases.
The reason is that smoking and alcohol intake can harm blood vessels and cause inflammation to the cells, leading to greater risk of serious diseases.
The potential health benefits of flavonoids are related to their antioxidants having anti-inflammatory effects and their ability to improve blood vessel function.
This may explain why the smokers and drinkers benefited strongly from foods rich in flavonoids.
Dr Bondonno said:
“It’s also important to note that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption.
By far the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.
We know these kind of lifestyle changes can be very challenging, so encouraging flavonoid consumption might be a novel way to alleviate the increased risk, while also encouraging people to quit smoking and reduce their alcohol intake.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in Nature Communications (Bondonnoet al., 2019).