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Flavonoid-Rich Foods May Help Reduce Body Fat Mass

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants found in fruits, tea, and chocolate, among other foods. A recent study suggests that flavonoid-rich foods may change body composition and contribute to a lower body fat mass.


Participants in the study included 2,734 healthy, female twins between the ages of 18 and 83. The researchers used food frequency questionnaires to assess total intake of flavonoids via flavonoid-rich foods, and 7 sub-classes of flavonoids, including flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, flavones, polymers, and proanthocyanidins. They used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure total fat content, including limb-to-trunk fat mass ratio, fat mass index, and central fat mass index.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that higher intake of anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins was associated with lower fat mass ratio. They also found that higher intakes of flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins were associated with a 3% to 4% lower fat mass ratio within each twin pair. Finally, the researchers found that the twin with a higher intake of flavonol-rich foods such as onions, tea, and pears and proanthocyanidin-rich foods such as apples and cocoa drinks had a 3% to 9% lower fat mass ratio than their twin.


These findings were also observed in participants who were younger than age 50 who consumed anthocyanin-rich foods such as berries, pears, grapes, and wine. The relationship was not affected by other dietary factors or risk factors.


Researchers from the University of East Anglia in the UK conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 18, 2017, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants which have previously been shown to decrease inflammation, protect our DNA from damage, and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow. Foods high in flavonoids include citrus fruits, grapes, strawberries, tea, cooked greens and dark chocolate.

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