A celebration of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month wouldn't be complete without a discussion of the helpful flavonoids that can be found in many fresh fruits and veggies.
Flavonoids have been the most widely studied group of phytochemicals, due in large part to their anti-cancer activity. The USDA defines flavonoids as a large group of non-nutrient chemicals in plants called phytochemicals, which have biological activities related to health. High flavonoid intake has been associated with lower incidence of heart disease, a decreased risk of stroke, lower incidence of cancer, and lower cholesterol levels.
Flavonoids are found in the seed coats, roots, leaves, and fruits of many plants. A few examples are beta-carotene (found in green leafy and orange vegetables), isoflavones (found in soy foods), anthocyannins (found in berries and other red, pink, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables), and quercetin (found in red wine, tea, green vegetables, and citrus fruit).
Not a bad thing to try, you say. But if you look for the word "flavonoid" on packages in the grocery stores, you will probably come up empty-handed. So, in a pinch, where do you find flavonoids? Think plants! Flavonoids are found in tea (black, oolong, and green), most fruits and vegetables, cocoa powder, soy foods, peanuts, and even red wine. The flavonoid content of tea is higher than that of fruits and vegetables, although drinking tea should in no way replace the need for 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day!
The two best places to go in the supermarket to stock up on flavonoid-containing foods are the produce aisle and the tea aisle. We'll talk about each later this week, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, why not check out our Nutrition Education Store? It's chock-full of interesting new posters, games, books, handouts, presentations, and more!
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.