Can a diet high in flavonoids reduce inflammation linked to neurodegeneration?

November 10, 2022

What are Flavonoids? 

You might have come across the word ‘flavonoids’ before. They are very powerful antioxidants helping to fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress throughout the body. 

Made from a variety of compounds found in many plant based foods, flavonoids possess ‘neuroprotective potential’ to control the inflammatory responses involved in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. 

These inflammatory responses are the body’s immune system taking action. Germs, toxins and allergens can trigger this immune response which in turn cause inflammation and uncomfortable symptoms such as physical swelling, pain, anxiety and even depression. 

By eating a diet rich in flavonoids not only are you on the path to reducing inflammation, but you are also eating to promote long term brain health. Ensuring flavonoids are part of your daily diet is key for cognitive health and wellbeing. 

What are flavonoids made of? 

Flavonoids is an umbrella term beneath which are a variety of compounds. These compounds are packed full of antioxidants and are found mostly in fruits and vegetables. Under this umbrella, flavonoids are broken down into six sub categories, each being used by the body as an anti-inflammatory response.

Flavonols are known for their antioxidant properties and contribution to reducing inflammation. These are found in many foods including onions, kale, lettuce, grapes, broccoli and peaches. Quercetin, a primary flavonol and often detailed in nutritional articles, acts as an antioxidant removing free radicals and inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease. 

Flavan-3-ols are known for their high content of rich nutrients. They are found in apples, green and white tea, blueberries, strawberries, cocoa and dark chocolate. Green & Blacks 85% Cocoa and Montezuma’s 74% Dark Chocolate are great options, both available online and from most super stores. 

Flavones are key in reducing inflammation. They are also the pigments in red and white flowering plants, working as a natural pesticide to protect against harmful insects. This type of flavonoid is found in red pepper, peppermint, parsley and chamomile. 

Flavanones use their anti-inflammatory properties to help manage weight and reduce cholesterol. They are found predominantly in fruits including lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges. 

Isoflavones help regulate and balance the body’s hormones while reducing inflammation. This particular class of flavonoids also exhibit ‘antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial’ properties to ‘prevent chronic diseases in which inflammation plays a key role’. They are found in many soy products and legumes including fava beans, soy beans, miso, tofu and tempeh. 

Lastly there is Anthocyanins, a naturally produced pigment giving colour to red, purple and blue flowers. These particular flavonoids also give colour to the outer skin of berries, as seen with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and purple grapes. 

Eat the rainbow

The Mediterranean diet has long been considered as one of the best to follow due to its high content of fresh fruit and vegetables, with little processed food and alcohol. We’ve put together a few of our favourite recipes high in flavonoids to help reduce inflammation while working to prevent cognitive decline. 

Haskapa Superfood Smoothie

Ella Mills’s Kale Caesar Salad

Anna Jones’s Olive Oil Braised runner and butter beans with tomato, feta and flatbreads

Take a look at our nutritional guide for brain health to learn more.