Healthy Fuel: An apple a day may do more than keep the doctor away!

BeInkandescent Healthy Fuel Series: December 2020 — Eating flavonoid-rich items such as apples and tea may protect against cancer and heart disease, particularly for smokers and heavy drinkers, according to research from the School of Medical and Health Sciences at Edith Cowan University (ECU). The scientists analyzed data from a Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort that studied 53,048 Danish people’s diets over 23 years.

“We found that people who habitually consumed moderate to high amounts of foods rich in flavonoids, compounds found in plant-based foods and drinks, were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease,” explains lead researcher Dr. Nicola Bondonno of his study published in Nature Communications.

More good news for those of us who like a little wine in the evening: While there was a lower risk of death in those who ate flavonoid-rich foods, the protective effect appeared to be strongest for those at high risk of chronic diseases due to cigarette smoking and those who drank more than two standard alcoholic drinks a day.

  • Here’s why: Flavonoids are known 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.
  • How much? 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, 100 grams of blueberries, and 100 grams of broccoli would provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and over 500 milligrams of total flavonoids.
  • However: “It’s important to note that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risks of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption,” suggests Dr. Bondonno. “By far, the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.”
  • Next step: Future research will study which types of heart disease cancers are most protected by flavonoids.

SourceEdith Cowan University


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