February is American Heart Month – the ideal time for you to focus on your cardiovascular health.
In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had personally experienced a heart attack, issued the first proclamation that recognized February as American Heart Month. All subsequent U.S. presidents have also declared February as American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, so consider taking extra good care of your heart now.
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes:
- Not smoking
- Achieving a healthy weight
- Controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Treating high blood pressure
- Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week
- Getting regular checkups1
Research shows certain nutrients, botanicals, and other natural compounds also support a healthy heart.
In Part 1 of our American Heart Month blog series below, you will learn more about bioflavonoids, which may significantly improve the health of your cardiovascular system.
What are Bioflavonoids?
Bioflavonoids are natural plant-based compounds that offer many health benefits. They are also known as flavonoids and were previously called Vitamin P.2,3 Research shows this diverse group of natural compounds have blood sugar-lowering, cholesterol-lowering, anticancer, kidney-protective, liver-protective, and antioxidant properties when consumed as part of a healthy diet.2 So far, more than 5000 different flavonoids have been discovered.4
The basic structure of bioflavonoids includes 15 carbon atoms and two phenolic rings that carry one or more hydroxyl groups (OH). See the picture of quercetin below as one example of a bioflavonoid.2
According to their various structures, bioflavonoids can be divided into six different classes, which are known as flavones, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, flavonols, and anthocyanidins.2
What are Flavones?
Flavones play a variety of roles in plants. They are responsible for the white and cream colors in flowers. They also act as co-pigments with anthocyanidins in blue flowers. Flavones protect plants from UVB light, and their levels increase with exposure to UV light. Flavones are natural pesticides, and they provide plants with protection against insects and fungal diseases.5
Flavones are present in many plants, though their concentration varies depending on many factors, including exposure to UV light. Flavones are found in chamomile flowers, oregano, parsley, sage, green and black teas, peas, citrus fruits, rice, bell peppers, celery, and other plant foods. Flavones that are known to offer health benefits include vitexin, luteolin, and apigenin.5
What are Flavanols?
Flavanols are present in many common foods, including legumes, tea, cocoa, grapes, apples, and grains. Green tea and chocolate (cocoa) are especially rich sources of flavanols. Examples of flavanols that are known to offer significant health benefits include epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and theaflavins.6
What are Flavanones?
Flavanones are one of the main classes of flavonoids, and over 400 unique flavanones have been identified. Significant amounts of flavanones are present in citrus fruits. Some of the citrus flavanones that are known to offer health benefits include hesperetin, naringenin, eriodictyol, and hesperidin.7
What are Isoflavones?
Isoflavones are primarily present in legumes but are also found in red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (Trifolium repens), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The content of isoflavones in plants depends on the growing conditions, preservation methods, and other factors.8
The isoflavone concentration increases sharply during stressful conditions, such as low humidity or the presence of pathogens. In soybeans, the isoflavone daidzein helps defend against several pathogens that could harm the plant, including fungi, which is why the level increases when pathogens are present. Isoflavones that are known to have an impact on health include daidzein, genistein, and glycitein.8
What are Flavonols?
Flavonols are the most abundant flavonoids, and they are present throughout the plant kingdom.9 Naturally occurring flavonols include quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, isorhamnetin, morin, galangin, fisetin, kaempferide, azaleatin, natsudaidain, pachypodol, and rhamnazin. Good sources of dietary flavonols include onions, capers, tea, saffron, apples, parsley, kale, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, and berries.8,10
What are Anthocyanidins?
Anthocyanidins are water-soluble, non-toxic organic compounds that are responsible for the intense red, blue, and purple colors found in fruits, flowers, and vegetables. In plants, they play protective roles in absorbing harmful radiation, transporting sugars, and adjusting fluid balance during periods of drought or frost. They also offer antioxidant benefits to plants. Anthocyanins are anthocyanidins with at least one sugar molecule attached.11 Anthocyanins and anthocyanidins are used as natural coloring agents instead of potentially toxic artificial colors and synthetic dyes.12
Anthocyanins and anthocyanidins have been extensively studied for their health benefits. Research shows they offer antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-obesity effects. They also contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Foods that are rich in anthocyanins and anthocyanidins include berries, blackcurrants, purple corn, red hibiscus flowers, lavender flowers, black carrot, red cabbage, grapes, pomegranates, red sweet potato, and purple potato.12
The Cardiovascular Benefits of A Full-Spectrum Citrus Bioflavonoid Complex
Citrus fruits are an especially rich source of heart-healthy bioflavonoid compounds. The dietary flavonoids present in citrus fruits include hesperidin, hesperetin, naringin, naringenin, diosmin, quercetin, rutin, nobiletin, tangeretin, and many others. Common citrus fruits that contain these flavonoids include bergamots, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges, and pomelos.2
Citrus flavonoids offer an impressive array of health-related benefits. In general, citrus flavonoids offer antioxidant, cell-protective, and anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation and oxidative stress play significant roles in the development of cardiovascular disease, it makes sense that an increased intake of citrus flavonoids could support a healthy cardiovascular system. Ample research confirms the intake of citrus flavonoids is associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes.2
Bioflavonoids are already utilized for the clinical treatment of cardiovascular disease by some healthcare providers since research shows they offer:
- Cardiotonic benefits
- Increased coronary blood flow
- Anti-arrhythmia activity
- Blood pressure normalization
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Optimal phospholipid ratios
- Reduced capillary permeability13
Cardiovascular diseases include atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), stroke, and other conditions. Several health concerns significantly contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, including hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (hypercholesterolemia), diabetes, and obesity.2 Research shows citrus bioflavonoids improve the health of those with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, and hyperlipidemia.2*
You will learn much more about the health conditions mentioned above and the evidence-based cardiovascular benefits of bioflavonoids in Part 2 of this blog series.
We hope you join us!
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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- U.S. commemorates 57th consecutive American Heart Month in February. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/february-is-american-heart-month. Published November 14, 2022. Accessed December 2, 2022.
- Mahmoud AM, Hernández Bautista RJ, Sandhu MA, et al. Beneficial Effects of Citrus Flavonoids on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019;2019:5484138. doi:10.1155/2019/5484138
- Chen W, Wang S, Wu Y, et al. The Physiologic Activity and Mechanism of Quercetin-Like Natural Plant Flavonoids. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2020;21(8):654-658. doi:10.2174/1389201021666200212093130
- Alappat B, Alappat J. Anthocyanin Pigments: Beyond Aesthetics. Molecules. 2020;25(23):5500. doi:10.3390/molecules25235500
- Hostetler GL, Ralston RA, Schwartz SJ. Flavones: Food Sources, Bioavailability, Metabolism, and Bioactivity. Adv Nutr. 2017;8(3):423-435. doi:10.3945/an.116.012948
- Luo Y, Jian Y, Liu Y, et al. Flavanols from Nature: A Phytochemistry and Biological Activity Review. Molecules. 2022;27(3):719. doi:10.3390/molecules27030719
- Barreca D, Gattuso G, Bellocco E, et al. Flavanones: Citrus phytochemical with health-promoting properties. Biofactors. 2017;43(4):495-506. doi:10.1002/biof.1363
- Křížová L, Dadáková K, Kašparovská J, et al. Isoflavones. Molecules. 2019;24(6):1076. doi:10.3390/molecules24061076
- Kozłowska A, Szostak-Węgierek D. Targeting Cardiovascular Diseases by Flavonols: An Update. Nutrients. 2022;14(7):1439. doi:10.3390/nu14071439
- Popiolek-Kalisz J, Fornal E. The Impact of Flavonols on Cardiovascular Risk. Nutrients. 2022;14(9):1973. doi:10.3390/nu14091973
- Sinopoli A, Calogero G, Bartolotta A. Computational aspects of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: A review. Food Chem. 2019;297:124898. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.05.172
- Khoo HE, Azlan A, Tang ST, et al. Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food Nutr Res. 2017;61(1):1361779. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779
- Deng Y, Tu Y, Lao S, et al. The role and mechanism of citrus flavonoids in cardiovascular diseases prevention and treatment. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022;62(27):7591-7614. doi:10.1080/10408398.2021.1915745