Fundamentals about Flavonoids: Why They Are Important, and Five Easy Ways to Incorporate Them in Your Diet

We hear about flavonoids all of the time in the press, but what is all of the buzz about? Flavonoids are plant compounds found in large amounts in soy beans and some other legumes (beans). Although flavonoids are found in most plants, they are particularly high in soy and flax seed oil, where they exceed other levels in plants by as much as 1000 percent. To a lesser extent, they’re also found in tea, onions, and apples. Flavonoids are powerful anti-oxidants and can have a powerful effect on your health.

Importantly, flavonoids introduce a weak form of estrogen that interferes with your own powerful estrogen’s attachment to certain receptor sites in breast, prostate, colon and other hormonally-influenced sites where your estrogens are thought to induce certain cancers.

Many of you may be familiar with the Okinawa  Diet and the Okinawa Program. Both were popular books that reached  the New York Times bestseller list. The Okinawans are the longest living people on earth, and were the subject of a study performed by Bradley J. Wilcox, M.D.,  D. Craig Willcox, Ph. D., and Makoto Suzuki, M.D. reveals in their book “The Okinawa Program” that along with other differences in their diet and life style, the intake of flavonoids plays a major  role in their longevity.

In fact, prostate, breast and colon cancer are almost unheard of in Okinowans, with the exception of their younger population who have adopted a more Western influenced diet. In addition to a reduction in hormone-dependent cancers, it is believed that flavonoids are responsible for their low incidence of heart disease. The good news is if you eat a meal high in flavonoids, measurable levels are still present in your blood stream for 36 hours. That’s pretty amazing.

Five Easy Way to Increase Flavonoids in Your Diet

  • What’s the easiest way to intake Flavonoids? In my home we eat oatmeal with berries and fruit every morning, and we use soy milk instead of regular milk.
  • In addition, we eat edamame for snacks, which is the actual bean in the pod. It is delicious, and a great appetizer as well.  Don’t eat the pod though!
  • Flaxseed is a wonderful supplement, and it also contains Omega-3, which we all know is most important. (Don’t rely on Flaxseed for your sole Omega-3 supplement, however). Other ways to increase your Flavonoid intake are with tofu and, would you believe, Kudzu, also called Arrowroot.
  • In Georgia, we understand Kudzu better than in most areas. Remember that most vegetables contain some flavonoids, particularly broccoli, kale, bean sprouts, onions, celery, and turnip greens.  Flavonoid -rich fruits are apples, cranberries, grapes, and strawberries.
  • And don’t forget your cup of black or green tea. It’s delicious, and good for you too.

E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS
Plastic Surgeon
Savannah, GA