Apples and green tea are food stuffs, rich in flavonoids. These are plant nutrients known to reduce inflammation and act as potent antioxidants. According to a new report published in the journal Nature Communications, people who ate more flavonoid-rich foods were less likely to die of cancer and heart disease than those who ate fewer such foods. The protective effects of flavonoids are particularly strong for people who heavily use alcohol or smoke, according to the study led by researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia.
The findings come from an analysis of the diets consumed by more than 53,000 Danish people over a 23-year period.
Nicola Bondonno, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan University and a lead researcher of the study, says the findings should encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, especially if they have a high risk for cancer or heart disease.
Past research estimates 7.8 million people worldwide die prematurely each year due to low fruit and vegetable consumption. That’s defined as eating less than 800 grams total per day.
Get a daily dose of flavonoids
The study found that consuming about 500 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids daily seemed to provide the greatest protection against disease. No added protection against heart disease or all-cause mortality was observed for non-smokers and moderate drinkers who consumed a higher level of flavonoids.
However, protection against cancer seemed to increase for up to 1,000 mg of flavonoids consumed daily. “These levels exist well within daily dietary achievable limits,” the study noted.
“This is a remarkable study that contains convincing evidence that what we eat can improve health outcomes — something we intuitively know,” Dr. William Li, author of the book “Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself” and president of the Angiogenesis Foundation, told Healthline. “Flavonoids can play a more powerful role in nutrition than we thought.”