Flavonoids have been making headlines after a study released in the latest issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that this type of antioxidant may help lower the risk of heart disease. Where are flavonoids found? Science is uncovering some surprising sources, including the crunchy, satisfying almond.
In the recent study, researchers evaluated the diets of more than 34,000 women, looking at their total flavonoid intake, the types of flavonoids they were consuming and what foods were contributing to their intake. They then looked at those women who consumed the most flavonoids and assessed how this affected their risk of developing heart disease, as compared to women who did not get significant flavonoid content in their diet. The results showed that certain flavonoids from dietary sources have the potential to lower the risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent.
What foods did they find were most beneficial? Green tea, red wine, berries and cocoa may come to mind -- after all, these foods are frequently cited in the media and in food products for their antioxidant properties. But this study found bran, apples and pears were some of the foods that topped the list.
As researchers continue delving into the flavonoid content of foods, they continue to discover there are many sources. In addition to bran, apples and pears, here are five other surprising food sources:
- Almonds: There are already so many reasons to grab a handful of almonds, and research continues to discover more and more. Recently an analysis conducted at Tufts University discovered that almonds contain high levels of several flavonoid compounds, similar to the amount found in many fruits and vegetables. In fact, this new research showed a one-ounce handful of almonds -- that's about 23 - contains the same amount of flavonoids as a serving of broccoli or a serving of brewed black or green tea.
"The main type of flavonoids we found in a serving of almonds are also the ones that provide the highest degree of protection against cell death from oxidants, a mechanism that appears to play an important role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases," says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, Senior Scientist and Director of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at Tufts. "Almonds have already been shown to be beneficial to heart health, and we continue to discover the many reasons why."
Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamin E, another potent antioxidant in the diet. Beyond the great nutrition almonds provide, they're a versatile snack and ingredient that can be combined with many other food sources of flavonoids to help increase antioxidant power in the diet.
- Parsley: The vibrant color and flavor of parsley has made this herb popular in cooking and in garnishing. But, parsley is also an important source of nutrition -- it contains high levels of certain types of flavonoids and also contains the antioxidant vitamin C.
- Coffee: The taste, aroma and experience of a cup of coffee has made this beverage a popular way to start the day. Because coffee is so frequently consumed, the effects on health have been widely studied. Research is showing that coffee is much more than a combination of caffeine and water. In fact, studies show coffee is a major source of antioxidants and just like tea, coffee contains catechins, a type of flavonoid that has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
- Beans: Fiber, protein, and B vitamins have made beans a nutritious choice. Need another reason to eat beans? Research shows that a half-cup serving of beans can provide thousands of different types of antioxidants, including flavonoids. The flavonoids in beans are found in their seed coat and help to give them their color.
- Onions: Flavor may be the primary reason onions are added to so many dishes. However, onions are also an important source of nutrition. This vegetable is a major source of flavonoids. In particular, research has shown that shallots contain the most flavonoids when compared to other members of the onion family.
For double the flavonoid benefits, why not combine almonds with other foods containing flavonoids? Try these pairings, for example:
- Is the start of your day a cup of coffee or tea? Try adding a handful of almonds to your morning routine.
- Add minced parsley to your bean salad and top with slivered almonds for added crunch and flavor.
- Make a yogurt parfait by alternating layers of berries and low-fat yogurt and topping it with a handful of sliced almonds.
- Make an onion tart and top it with slivered almonds.
- For a tasty snack, have a small piece of dark chocolate and a handful of almonds.
Need more ideas for great ways to use almonds? Visit http://www.AlmondsAreIn.com.
SOURCE: Almond Board of California
CONTACT: Stacey Humble of the Almond Board of California, firstname.lastname@example.org,