A paper published earlier this week provides further support for the beneficial role of flavonoids in vascular health. These plant-derived chemicals with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties are concentrated in berries, cabbage, capers, celery seed, citrus fruits, cocoa, dark chocolate, kale, onions, oregano, parsley, pecans, radicchio, red wine, rosemary, saffron, tea and watercress. A study published earlier this year found that elderly men and women (average age, 81.2 years) who consumed the highest concentration of these phytonutrients were nearly 50% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s over the followup period (average, 6.1 years). These results build upon years of research demonstrating improvement in vascular health as reflected by reduced arterial stiffness/aging and associated lower blood pressure.
The new study assigned volunteers to receive a cup of hot cocoa that was either natural (fortified with flavonoids) or processed (devoid of flavonoids). The results were higher brain oxygen levels, more focused concentration and greater cognitive performance in those assigned to the hot cocoa drink fortified with flavonoids.
Take Home Message: Focus in on flavonoids for improved vascular health. I recommend that my patients consume flavonoid-enriched products throughout the day. This might include a handful of blueberries as part of a breakfast meal, adding some of the veggies/spices/herbs listed above for soups, salads and lunch/dinner entrees, enjoying a small amount (0.5 to 1 ounce) of dark chocolate and your favorite flavonoid-enriched beverage(s).
Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland USA. Check out his Top 50 Foods in his latest book: “Heal Your Heart…” published by Penguin Random House.