The flavonoids in black tea have been linked to improved cardiovascular health later in life. Drinking a cup of black tea daily may provide you with these benefits, but if you’re not a fan of tea, there are other food options that contain flavonoids.
Drinking a cup of tea daily can have potential benefits for your health as you age, but even if you’re not a fan of tea, you can still reap the benefits of flavonoids through other dietary choices. Flavonoids are natural substances found in many common foods and drinks such as black and green tea, apples, nuts, citrus fruits, berries, and more.
Flavonoids have long been recognized for their health benefits, but new research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) suggests that they may be even more beneficial than previously thought. The Heart Foundation supported a study of 881 older women (average age 80) that found that those with a higher intake of flavonoids in their diet were less likely to have significant accumulation of abdominal aortic calcification (AAC).
AAC is calcification of the abdominal aorta – the largest artery in the body that supplies oxygenated blood from the heart to the abdominal organs and lower extremities – and is an indicator of cardiovascular risks such as heart attack and stroke. It has also been found to be a reliable predictor of dementia in later life.
While there are many dietary sources of flavonoids, some contain particularly high amounts, said Ben Parmenter, a researcher with the Institute for Nutrition Research and Health Innovation at ECU.
“In most populations, a small group of foods and beverages — which are uniquely high in flavonoids — contribute to the bulk of the total dietary flavonoid intake,” he said. “The main contributors are typically black or green tea, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, red wine, apples, raisins/grapes, and dark chocolate.”
There are many different types of flavonoids, such as flavan-3-ols and flavonols, which the study indicated are also involved in AAC. Study participants who had a higher intake of total flavonoids, flavan-3-ols, and flavonols were 36-39 percent less likely to get intense AAC.
Black tea was the study group’s primary source of total flavonoids, and it was also associated with significantly lower odds of intense AAC. Compared to respondents who didn’t drink tea, participants who drank two to six cups a day had a 16-42 percent lower chance of getting intense AAC.
However, some other dietary sources of flavonoids such as fruit juice, red wine, and chocolate, did not show a significant beneficial association with AAC.
Not just tea
Although black tea was the main source of flavonoids in the study – likely due to the age of the participants – Mr Parmenter said people could still benefit from flavonoids without using a kettle.
“Among women who did not drink black tea, higher flavonoid intake than non-tea also appeared to protect against widespread arterial calcification,” he said. “This means that flavonoids from sources other than black tea may be protective against AAC when tea is not consumed.”
Mr Parmenter said this is important because it allows non-tea drinkers to benefit from the flavonoids in their diet.
“In other groups or groups of people, such as young adults or people from other countries, black tea may not be the main source of flavonoids,” he said. “AAC is a major predictor of vascular disease events, and this study shows that intake of flavonoids, which can protect against AAC, can be easily achieved in most people’s diets.”
Reference: “Usual dietary flavonoid intake partners with less prevalent abdominal aortic calcification in a cohort of older women” by Benjamin H. Hodgson, Nicola B Bondono, and Joshua R Lewis, November 3, 2022, Available Here. Atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology.