Flavonoids -- found in apples, strawberries, bran and even chocolate -- can reduce cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, according to new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers examined data relating to more than 34,000 women free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the beginning of the Iowa Women's Health Study, which took place between 1986 and 2002. Over a 16-year period, CVD, as well as coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke and total mortality were measured. Intake of total flavonoids was also monitored, and divided into seven subclasses -- including anthocyanins found in blueberries, raspberries and red wine; flavanones from citrus fruits; and flavones, which are found in parsley and celery.
The women whose diets contained high amounts of anthocyanins -- which give blueberries and red grapes their color and have also proven to be powerful antioxidant sources -- were less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases, coronary heart disease, or from any other cause than those whose diet included little or no anthocyanins.
Flavanone intake was linked to lower risk of death due to coronary heart disease; flavone intake was associated with lower risk of death for all reasons.
The researchers also looked at the effects of specific foods. For protection against death from cardiovascular disease, consuming bran, apples, pears, strawberries, red wine and chocolate proved effective. Eating apples, pears and grapefruit protected women against death from coronary heart disease.
"Results from this study suggest that the intake of certain subclasses of flavonoids
may be associated with lower coronary heart disease and total cardiovascular disease mortality in postmenopausal women," wrote the researchers. "Furthermore, consumption of some foods that are high in flavonoid contentůmay have similar associations."
Food richest in flavonoids include: apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans and tomatoes.
"Overwhelming scientific evidence points to the fact that consuming a plant-based diet, rich in phytonutrients, extends lifespan and protects the body and mind from degenerative disease," explained Mike Adams, author of The 7 Laws of Nutrition
. "Plants offer powerful medicine for preventing and even reversing disease. As consumers, all we need to do is consume these foods and superfoods on a regular basis. Our bodies automatically know what to do with these medicinal nutrients."