Have a high summer food fest
With the arrival of high summer many of us may already be on vacation or soon be going on a trip. If the Mediterranean happens to be the destination, what better time to sample a true Mediterranean diet. Take the chance to visit local markets and enjoy the wonderful rainbow colours of all the fruits and vegetables on display; and do try them, as you will also give your body a holiday boost of a very special set of nutrients.
The vibrant colours are the indicators of flavonoids in fruit and vegetables: think of the blue in blueberries or the scarlet red in peppers. They can of course also be found in legumes, nuts, seeds, cocoa and tea, but this time of year what better way to enjoy them than through seasonal bounty.
What special about flavonoids is they are a group of phytonutrients best known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be effective in reducing free radical cell damage, while many a study has extolled their general health benefits. The key to gaining the most benefits is eating as much of the rainbow as possible.
A rainbow that summons up the blood
Flavonoids offer benefits for metabolic and cardiovascular health as it appears they make the arteries more flexible, increasing blood flow. This can bring all sorts of rewards, with one study finding that men who consumed just three servings of flavonoid-rich foods per week (such as berries, grapes, apples, pears and citrus fruits) were on average 10% less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
While it’s easy to boost flavonoid absorption – just eat more fruit and veg – to maximise benefits try to incorporate a wide range. It turns out variety really is the spice of life, and as there over 6000 flavonoids, a whole sweep of fruits, vegetables, legumes and other plant-based foods is best if you want to maximise potential health benefits. Of course, this also means there is a better chance of finding more things that might suit individual tastes.
Keep it minimal; flavonoids are water-soluble, so can fall victim to over boiling. Colour changes in fruits and vegetables are a good indicator of overcooking; if the vibrant colours become duller you are losing the goodness. Best to aim for ‘al dente’. And as most flavonoids are found in the skin or outer layers, eat these if possible. Also – store fruit and vegetables whole until ready to be eaten; pre-cutting, pre-slicing and of course pre-peeling can greatly affect flavonoid levels content.
There is no single ‘silver bullet’ flavonoid; think of them instead as arrows in a quiver, with each of them capable of hitting a wide number of health bullseyes. The main thing is to reward your body with a boost of goodness while you also recharge your batteries – and enjoy some delicious food.
Move beyond calories
Enjoy food for better health
Make eating real food Just Routine
NOTE: speak to your doctor before considering flavonoid supplementation. High consumption of dietary flavonoids is generally considered safe. However, supplements may affect the action of anticoagulants and increase the toxicity of a wide range of drugs when taken concurrently.
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