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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-02-13 (EDT)

Flavonoids are plant pigments. , an amazing array of over 6,000 different substances found in virtually all plants, are responsible for many of the plant colors that dazzle us with their brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red.

There are a number of different categories of flavonoids including: flavonols, dihydroflavonols, flavones, isoflavones, flavanones, anthocyanins, and anthocyanidins. Within each of these groups fall hundreds, and sometimes thousands of different flavonoids.

Function of Flavonoids

  • Antioxidant[1]
  • Flavanoids inhibit the destruction of collagen by white blood cells. They also have antiviral, antioxidant, antiallergic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Flavanoids help with the cross linking of collagen. This process is needed for the structural integrity of collagen as it is healing.[2]
  • Help protect blood vessels from rupture or leakage
  • Enhance the power of your vitamin C
  • Protect cells from oxygen damage
  • Prevent excessive inflammation throughout your body [3]
  • Antibiotic activity

Signs of Deficiency

  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Excessive swelling after injury
  • Frequent colds or infections

Food Sources

Virtually all fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices contain flavonoids.

  • Fruit high in flavonoids include citrus, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Dry beans (where they give red beans,black beans, and speckled beans their color) and grains (where the color provided by flavonoids is usually in the yellow family).

Factors Which Impact Function

  • Heat decreases the flavonoid content of food. For example, boiling extracts 50% of the total flavonoid content in fresh vegetables such as spinach and removes about 30% of the flavonoids in foods such as onions. Overcooking of vegetables has particularly problematic effects on this category of nutrients. [4]
  • High acidity decreases the flavonoid content of food.
  • The processing of food decreases the flavonoid content. For example, if the pulpy, fibrous parts of fruits are eliminated from the juice, and the vibrant natural colors of canned vegetables are lost during repeated heating, risk of flavonoid deficiency is greatly increased.

Used to Treat

Flavonoids may be beneficial in the prevention and/or treatment of the following conditions:

Type of Flavonoids


Divi RL, Chang HC, Doerge DR. Anti-thyroid isoflavones from soybean: isolation, characterization, and mechanisms of action. Biochem Pharmacol 1997;54(10):1087-1096 1997.

Groff JL, Gropper SS, Hunt SM. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. West Publishing Company, New York, 1995 1995. Ioku K, Aoyama Y, Tokuno A, et al. Various cooking methods and the flavonoid content in onion. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2001;41(7): 78-83 2001.

Middleton E, Kandaswami C. Effects of flavonoids on immune and inflammatory cell functions. Biochem Pharmacol 1992;43(6):1167-1179 1992. Minato K, Miyake Y, Fukumoto S et al. Lemon flavonoid, eriocitrin, suppresses exercise-induced oxidative damage in rat liver. Life Sci 2003 Feb 21;72(14):1609-16 2003.

Okuda T, Yoshida T, Hatano T. Antioxidant phenolics in oriental medicine. In: Yagi K. (Ed). Active oxygens, lipid peroxides, and antioxidants. Japan Sci Soc Press, Tokyo, 1993;333-346 1993.

Panthong A, Kanjanapothi D, Tuntiwachwuttikul P, et al. Antiinflammatory activity of flavonoids. Phytomedicine 1994;1:141-144 1994.

Roger CR. The nutritional incidence of flavonoids: some physiologic and metabolic considerations. Experientia 1988;44(9):725-804 1988.

Tarayre JP, Lauressergues H. Advantages of a combination of proteolytic enzymes, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid in comparison with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Arznein-Forsch 1977;27:1144-1149 1977.
  1. Myhrstad MC, Carlsen H, Nordstrom O et al. (Mar 2002) Flavonoids increase the intracellular glutathione level by transactivation of the gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase catalytical subunit promoter. Free Radic Biol Med;32(5):386-93.
  2. Murray Michael (1994) Arthritis, Getting Well Naturally Prima.
  3. Middleton E Jr, Kandaswami C. 1986 The impact of plant flavonoids on mammalian biology: implications for immunity, inflammation and cancer. Chapter 15 in: Harbourne JB (Ed). The flavonoids: advances in research since 1986. Chapman & Hall, London, 1993,619-652.
  4. Gil MI, Ferreres F, Tomas-Barberan FA. 1999 Effect of postharvest storage and processing on the antioxidant constituents (flavonoids and vitamin C) of fresh-cut spinach. J Agric Food Chem 1999;4 1999.