What do blueberries, spinach and dark chocolate have in common? All are rich in flavonoids, the chemical compounds found in plants that give them color — and medicinal powers.
Research has found that flavonoids provide a health benefits that include helping to fight cancer, lowering the risk for heart disease and helping to preserve brain function. They’ve even been used to fight wrinkles.
Antioxidants help fight inflammation and aging. Flavonoids also have properties that could help prevent blood clots. A study published last year in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension suggested that flavonoids in foods such as berries, red wine, apples and pears might influence gut bacteria in a way that lowers blood pressure.
Because of this, flavonoids play a central role in the Mediterranean, DASH and MIND diets, often recommended by heart and brain health experts. All three place a heavy focus on flavonoid-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans.
Flavonoids are found in berries, cherries, apples, grapes, leeks and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce and kale. Garlic and onions, Soybeans have them, too.
If you’re not used to eating a lot of produce, you can build it into your diet slowly.
You can also drink flavonoids. Beverages such as red wine and tea, especially black or green tea, are good sources. Fruits and vegetables can be squeezed into juices or smoothies as well, but Petersen says juicing is less than ideal because it removes a lot of beneficial fiber.