Diet High in Flavonols Linked to Reduced Risk of Cancer, Heart Disease, and Other Conditions

by Ella

Recent research suggests that incorporating a diet rich in flavonols, chemical compounds present in various colorful fruits and vegetables, may offer significant health benefits, including lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Flavonols, known for their antioxidant properties, are commonly found in foods such as onions, apples, tomatoes, and coffee, and belong to a broader class of naturally occurring chemicals called flavonoids, which are abundant in plant-derived foods and beverages.


While previous studies have hinted at the health benefits associated with flavonoids, a new large-scale population study, involving nearly 12,000 adults in the United States, offers further evidence supporting the positive effects of flavonol consumption on health outcomes. Published in Scientific Reports on February 25, the study found that individuals with higher flavonol intake experienced lower rates of overall mortality, as well as reduced incidences of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Importantly, the study revealed a dose-dependent relationship, indicating that higher consumption of flavonols was associated with better health outcomes compared to lower intake levels.


Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS RD, a Dietician with Cleveland Clinic and co-author of Regenerative Health, expressed little surprise at the study’s findings, citing previous research linking flavonoids to a reduced risk of various diseases and mortality.


Furthermore, the study shed light on the specific health benefits associated with individual flavonol compounds, such as quercetin, providing valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying these effects.


Katherine Donelan, MS, RD, an oncology dietician with Stanford Health Care, emphasized the importance of flavonols, referring to them as the “special sauce” responsible for the beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables.

To investigate the association between flavonol consumption and mortality risk, researchers from Anhui Medical University in China analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an ongoing public dataset in the United States. The study utilized three years of NHANES data, involving 11,679 individuals aged 20 and above, with an average age of 47. The participants, representing a diverse population, were evenly distributed between genders and included individuals from various ethnic backgrounds.

By examining dietary records from participants, researchers estimated their daily flavonol consumption, which encompasses a wide range of naturally occurring foods such as onions, kale, grapes, and berries, as well as beverages like black tea and wine. The study also evaluated the daily intake of specific flavonol subtypes, including isorhamnetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and quercetin.

Over an average follow-up period of eight years, researchers observed a significant reduction in overall mortality among individuals with higher flavonol consumption. Moreover, increased flavonol intake was associated with lower mortality rates from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease, with specific flavonol compounds showing varying degrees of effectiveness.

In summary, the study underscores the potential health benefits of incorporating flavonol-rich foods into one’s diet, emphasizing the importance of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-derived sources in promoting overall health and well-being.



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