Integrative Nutrition Blog

Insights on Autoimmune Health and Inflammatory Conditions

Anti-Inflammatory Compounds: Flavonoids

May 17, 2023 | Inflammation & Autoimmune Disease

Plants are powerful inflammation-fighting machines. They produce a number of these special compounds as a way to protect themselves from the surrounding environment. Flavonoids are one type of these naturally occurring compounds that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in our bodies. It’s important for you to know what they are, how they fight inflammation, where you find them, and how to include them into your daily eating plan.

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are compounds naturally found in plants. They give plants their distinct color and smell and protect them from harmful UV rays, toxins, microbes, and other natural stressors. These compounds also help plants survive droughts and extreme temperatures.
Currently, around 6000 flavonoids are divided into different subgroups based on their chemical structure. These groups include: Flavanols, Flavan-3-ols, Flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, and anthocyanins

How Do They Fight Inflammation?

Flavonoids are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that help remove free radicals from your body and lower oxidative stress.
They also help your body recover from inflammatory reactions
One of the ways they fight inflammation is by inhibiting COX-2 enzyme. This enzyme is responsible for increasing the production of prostaglandins to initiate an inflammatory response. To put this in perspective, NSAIDs are also COX-2 inhibitors which is why you take them when you have pain or swelling. Flavonoids do the same thing.
There are some other great health benefits of flavonoids, which include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Protect your heart
  • May reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • May stop cancer cells from replicating
  • May inhibit enzymes that trigger neurodegenerative diseases

Where Do You Find Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are found in a variety of plants. Below is a breakdown of the different flavonoid groups and the foods that contain them. Notice that most of these are common fruits and vegetables and also contain other anti-inflammatory compounds.

  • Flavanols: onions, kale, grapes/red wine, tea, peaches, berries, tomatoes, lettuce, scallions and broccoli

  • Flavan-3-ols: teas (black, green, white, oolong), apples, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cocoa and chocolate

  • Flavones: parsley, red peppers, celery, chamomile, peppermint, mint

  • Flavanones: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit

  • Isoflavones: soy, fava beans

  • Anthyocyanins: Berries, grapes

How to Get Them into Your Diet

Here’s a simple outline of 1 day to fit a variety of flavonoids into your daily eating plan:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries and a mug of tea
  • Lunch: Salad with lettuce, kale, tomatoes, mint, fava beans and a lemon vinaigrette
  • Snack: Celery + apple slices with nut butter and raisins
  • Dinner: broccoli & pepper stir-fry with tofu and red wine with grilled peaches for dessert

If you struggle with ongoing issues with your autoimmune disease or other inflammatory disorders, it is imperative that you get these key plant compounds into your diet. Use the plan above or contact me to schedule a free call if you feel like this is overwhelming for you. I’d love to help you feel better with a few simple tweaks to your everyday eating plan.

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