As we continue in this great time of year for farmers markets, vegetable gardens, there are still many delicious foods that we associate with the sunny days of summer: sweet blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries; succulent plums, apricots, peaches, and nectarines; deep red Bing or bright yellow Rainier cherries; flavorful red and black grapes, velvety mangoes and kiwi; and juicy watermelons. And there’s so much more: sweet yellow or red onions, pungent garlic, dark leafy greens and lettuces, red tomatoes, green zucchini squash, and bright yellow crookneck squash.
What do all of these wonderful foods have in common? 1-They are all colorful due to the plant pigments known as flavonoids. There are several types of flavonoids, and different foods vary in the types of flavonoids that they contain. For example, red and purple berries and grapes contain anthocyanidins; yellow onions and kale contain flavonols. No matter the type, flavonoids are an exciting area of nutritional research. The high content of flavonoids in fruit- and vegetable-rich diets contribute to the health benefits associated with plant-based diets.
Just a few facts:
Regulation of cell processes. Flavonoids can regulate cell growth, proliferation, and death by controlling the biochemical events that lead to changes in the expression of specific genes. Through this action, flavonoids may inhibit the productions of proteins associated with chronic diseases.
Cardiovascular benefits. Flavonoid-containing foods have been shown to increase the production of nitric oxide by endothelial cells in blood vessel walls. Nitric oxide promotes the vasodilation (relaxation) of arteries; it also decreases the stickiness of platelets, one of the first steps in clot formation. Both of these effects are desirable in the treatment and prevention of coronary artery disease.
Cancer prevention. High dietary intakes of some flavonoids have been found to be inversely related to the risk of certain cancers. It is believed that the flavonoids act by inhibiting the proliferation and promoting the death (apoptosis) of cancer cells.
Neurodegenerative disease prevention. Flavonoids also possess antioxidant, metal-chelating, and anti-inflammatory properties that make them potential protectors against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Anti-aging. Flavonoids have also been associated with improved cognitive performance
and decreased age-related cognitive decline.
So fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables: They look good, taste good, and they’re good for you!