A study reported on August 13, 2019 in Nature Communications found that people who consumed higher amounts of flavonoids had a lower risk of dying of cancer and heart disease compared to those who consumed lesser amounts. Flavonoids are compounds that occur in fruit, tea and other plant foods.
Nicola Bondonno and associates at Edith Cowan University analyzed 23 years of data from 53,048 men and women enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort. They found that subjects who consumed approximately 500 milligrams flavonoids per day had the lowest risk of heart disease or cancer-related mortality. The protective effect was strongest for those at greater risk of these diseases due to smoking or consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
“These findings are important as they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of these chronic diseases,” Dr Bondonno commented. “But 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,” she added.
“It’s important to consume a variety of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant-based food and drink,” Dr Bondonno noted. “Flavonoids have been shown 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.”