You probably already knew that the flavonoids found in plant-based foods help keep you healthy by fighting the common cold, but did you know they may also treat varicose veins, cold sores, hemorrhoids, and bruising?
Research shows that flavonoids have anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antithrombogenic, anticancer and neuroprotective properties that give them limitless power when it comes to keeping you healthy. Here are eight fantastic health benefits of flavonoids that you probably didn’t know about.
- Varicose veins
If you haven’t experienced varicose veins (also known as spider veins), consider yourself lucky! The condition affects up to 60 percent of people in the United States, and most of them are women (1). They usually occur in the legs and feet because walking and standing increases the pressure on these areas. Varicose veins look enlarged and twisted. They also tend to be darker in color, which gives them the appearance of a spider web. Although the condition is cosmetic, they may cause pain in some instances or lead to skin ulcers and blood clots (1).
A healthy diet high in flavonoids is the best way to treat varicose veins at home. Several studies have found that flavonoids reduce the swelling, aching, and pain due to varicose veins (1). Notably, the flavonoid rutin may prevent varicose veins by supporting the walls of your veins and helping with blood flow (1). Further research shows that flavonoids may reduce leakage in the veins (1). Stay away from inflammatory processed foods if you have varicose veins as this may cause additional swelling.
2. Cold sores
Cold sores are caused by an infection of the herpes simplex virus. Not only are they embarrassing if one presents itself on your lip, but they are also highly contagious. They can spread to other people or even other areas of your body. According to a study published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, and Oral Pathology, cold sores can be treated with a combination of vitamin C and flavonoids.
Researchers gave test subjects either a dose of 200 milligrams of vitamin C and 200 milligrams of flavonoids three to five times a day or a placebo. Results indicated that the group who received the flavonoid and vitamin C treatment reduced the duration of their cold sores by 57 percent (2). Researchers concluded that flavonoids could be used as a natural remedy for herpes and cold sores.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum and anus. They are caused by an increase in pressure on the veins in that area, and they are very common among pregnant women. Most hemorrhoids get worse over time, but they can easily be treated and prevented at home.
Some people get hemorrhoids when they strain themselves on the toilet due to a painful bowel movement. Luckily, plant-based foods that are high in flavonoids also tend to be high in fiber, which can help with bowel regularity. Research shows that flavonoids help improve capillary flow, vascular tone, and microcirculation, which can help prevent and treat the symptoms of hemorrhoids (3). Berries, peppers, and apples are all excellent sources of flavonoids. They are also high in fiber to help you go.
There are several types of hepatitis, but they are all characterized by inflammation of the liver. The disease usually occurs as a result of a viral infection, but it can also be due to the use of certain medications, drugs, alcohol, and toxins. Some people develop hepatitis as an autoimmune condition.
Research shows that the flavonoid catechin, which is found in green tea, has been shown to help reduce symptoms of both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) hepatitis (4). Most studies found that the best amount to take was 500 to 750 milligrams of catechins three times a day (4).
If you’ve ever noticed that you bruise easily, it could be due to a flavonoid deficiency. Bruises occur when a blood vessel breaks due to some kind of blunt force. It causes blood to accumulate under the skin. The skin where the bruise occurs usually turns a dark color. They are painful to the touch and usually take a few days to heal on their own. Research shows that the combination of flavonoids and vitamin C may help reduce your ability to bruise. This is because flavonoids have been shown to strengthen the walls of blood vessels, making them less likely to break.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology evaluated test subjects who had been diagnosed with a chronic bruising disorder called progressive pigmented purpura. The subjects were given 100 milligrams of the flavonoid rutin and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day. Results indicated that the bruising was no longer apparent after four weeks. Additionally, the bruising did not return three months after the treatment stopped (5).
The flavonoid quercetin has natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties that may be used to treat allergies, skin reactions, seasonal allergies, and food allergies. A study published in the Iran Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology found that quercetin releases histamines from immune cells when an allergen is detected to reduce symptoms of allergies, such as watery eyes, a runny nose, hives, indigestion, and coughing (6). The study also indicated that quercetin worked as well as some prescription medication to fight allergies, minus the side effects (6).
7. High blood pressure
If left untreated, high blood pressure may result in a stroke or cardiovascular disease. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the flavonoids found in berries called anthocyanins as well as other flavonoids such as flavan-3-ol compounds may be able to prevent high blood pressure (7).
8. Cardiovascular disease
Several studies have indicated that there is a link between cardiovascular disease and flavonoid deficiency. A meta-analysis study that evaluated 14 clinical trials concluded that people with higher intakes of flavonoids had a significantly reduced risk of developing a heart condition (8).