An apple a day may keep the reaper away, especially when enjoyed with a cup of hot tea. A new study finds that eating foods rich in flavonoids, a compound found in high concentrations in foods like apples and beverages such as tea, lowers one’s risk of death, particularly among heavy drinkers and smokers.
Researchers at Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied diet data from more than 53,000 Danish citizens collected over 23 years.
Dr. Nicola Bondonno, the lead researcher of the study, said her team found that those who regularly ate flavonoid-rich foods saw a reduced risk of developing cancer and heart disease. This protective effect was the strongest for those with a high risk of chronic diseases because of smoking cigarettes and from drinking more than two alcoholic beverages per day.
“It’s important to consume a variety of different flavonoid compounds found in different plant based food and drink. This is easily achievable through the diet: one cup of tea, one apple, one orange, 100g of blueberries, and 100g of broccoli would provide a wide range of flavonoid compounds and over 500mg of total flavonoids, lead researcher Dr Nicola Bondonno said.
As for why these foods may be so beneficial, Dr. Bondonno says that flavonoids have anti-inflammatory effects and can improve blood vessel function.
While the research established an association between flavonoid consumption and lower risk of death, why this happens is still unclear, Dr Bondonno said.
“Alcohol consumption and smoking both increase inflammation and damage blood vessels, which can increase the risk of a range of diseases,” she explained. “Flavonoids have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and improve blood vessel function, which may explain why they are associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and cancer.”
Cannabis has already proven this before
We’ve been aware of the molecules known as flavonoids since 1985. However, due to strict regulation on cannabis research, work on these molecules has been limited. Now, thanks to Canada’s recent legalization of cannabis, scientists have been able to investigate them unhindered.
Those pain-relieving molecules in cannabis, called cannflavin A and cannflavin B, cut down on pain by fighting off inflammation but are not psychoactive.
“The problem with these molecules is they are present in cannabis at such low levels, it’s not feasible to try to engineer the cannabis plant to create more of these substances”.
As writer Christine Sismondo put it in the Star, “you’d have to consume Cheech and/or Chong levels for it to work as an effective anti-inflammatory.”
But work has already begun to produce it in larger quantities through synthetic production and we might see much more research related to these flavonoids in the future.
You can read more about the flavonoids in cannabis here: Scientists Unlock The Potential Of Marijuana’s Pain-Relieving Compounds