PERTH, Australia — 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.
“These findings are important as they highlight the potential to prevent cancer and heart disease by encouraging the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods, particularly in people at high risk of these chronic diseases,” explains Dr. Bondonno in a statement. “But it’s also important to note that flavonoid consumption does not counteract all of the increased risk of death caused by smoking and high alcohol consumption. By far the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking and cut down on alcohol.”
According to the study results, the recommended daily amount of flavonoids is 500mg. Dr. Bondonno says it’s best to enjoy a spectrum of foods that contain higher levels of flavonoids.
“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,” she suggests.
As for why these foods may be so beneficial, Dr. Bondonno says that flavonoids have anti-inflammatory effects and can improve blood vessel function.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.