The Differing Effects of Flavonoids

Flavonoids are polyphenolic chemicals synthesised by plants as secondary metabolites. In plants they play important roles in the protection of tissues from environmental damage including pathogens and ultraviolet light. When humans eat plants they absorb the flavonoids and here they have effects in human tissues. Generally flavonoids are antioxidants, and in this capacity they protect cells and tissues from free radical damage that leads to oxidative stress. High intakes of flavonoids from plants may protect from a number of diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer because of their antioxidant effects. However, in addition to this role a number of flavonoids have specialist roles. For example, flavonoids from the Gingko biloba plant may have effects in the brain and increase blood flow to brain tissue. The flavonoids in the milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum) may have particular effects at protecting the liver. Therefore a healthy diet should include a range of flavonoids to provide a range of health effects. 

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About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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