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Flavonoids: an introduction

Polyphenols, and flavonoids in general, are frequently mentioned as reasons why some food might be "super". Watch David Field explain more.

What are flavonoids?

In the first week we already mentioned the fact that some antioxidative or anti-inflammatory property of foods is used as a reason to elevate them to “super” status.

Flavonoids are a class of molecules and have been extensively studied: they possess antioxidant properties in vitro and in animal models, but they have also been linked to other beneficial effects, starting with a reduction in blood pressure and increased cardiovascular health.

These molecules are widespread in nature – they are found, for instance, in apples and citrus fruits, in berries and tea, in cocoa and some green vegetables. Despite this fact, flavonoids are poorly absorbed by the digestive system and are metabolized quickly: this is why scientists are interested in both the long and short term effects of diets particularly rich in them.

In this first video, we will start our discussion of flavonoids with the example of a population that traditionally consumes a flavonoid-rich beverage every day, the Kuna living in San Blas (Panama), and with the mechanism that could be responsible for the beneficial effects of flavonoids on our cardiovascular system. In the next activity, we will continue this discussion and move on to other areas where flavonoids might exert a beneficial effect: brain health and cognitive functions.

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