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November 14, 2022 3 min read

You ca read the entire article in Forbes Health at https://www.forbes.com/health/body/what-are-flavanol-3s/

As it turns out, my grandmother was on the right track for long-term health and vitality. She had low blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels and no issues with her blood sugar levels. So, it wasn’t surprising to me that after over a year of reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars and decades of research, our group of internationally-recognized scientists within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published the first intake recommendation around a non-essential set of nutrients called flavan-3-ols.

The intake recommendation—published in Advances in Nutrition—recommends that 400 to 600 milligrams daily of flavan-3-ols may reduce risk associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

So, what exactly does that mean? Below, I explain what flavan-3-ols are—and why this new recommendation is noteworthy.

What Are Dietary Bioactive Compounds?

Food scientists and researchers (like me) are learning more and more about the benefits of specific plant compounds called bioactives. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines bioactives as “constituents in foods or dietary supplements other than those needed to meet basic human nutritional needs, which are responsible for changes in health status.” While vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and vitamin D are essential for the functioning—and even survival—of humans, bioactive compounds (most derived from plants) are not necessarily required to survive, but may have significant health benefits. Examples of bioactive compounds include carotenoids (beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein), flavonoids (flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, isoflavones), cannabinoids (CBD), phytosterols, glucosinolates and thousands more. 

What Are Flavan-3-ols?

Flavan-3-ols are a sub-group of flavonoids, or healthy plant compounds found in many foods and drinks, such as tea, apples, berries, cocoa and my personal favorite, red wine. Decades of intake recommendations have taught most people that it’s important to consume enough calcium, iron, vitamin C, potassium and other essential nutrients that our bodies need for preventing deficiencies and promoting long-term vitality. The intake recommendation for flavan-3-ols really isn’t much different, aside from their non-essential nature—meaning you won’t develop scurvy and die from not consuming them, as is the case with vitamin C and other essential nutrients.

Flavan-3-ols aren’t just your typical “antioxidants,” as marketed by many food companies. For decades, research has accumulated consistently demonstrating their ability to help reduce the risk of diet-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes through a variety of mechanisms. They exert protective effects by helping to improve blood pressure, blood flow, cholesterol levels and even blood sugar, among others. Flavan-3-ols have even been shown to help protect the body’s cells from damage as we age.

How to Incorporate Flavan-3-ols Into Your Diet

While many foods contain flavan-3-ols, freshly brewed, unsweetened tea contains the highest amount. You can get flavan-3-ols from other foods that also contain many other nutrients that are important for health, including:

Brewed tea 1 cup 160 milligrams
Blueberries ½ cup 48 milligrams
Dark chocolate 3 squares 45 milligrams
Blackberries ½ cup 31 milligrams
Raspberries ½ cup 31 milligrams
Red Wine 5-ounces 23 milligrams
Apples 1 small 12 milligrams
Cocoa 1 tablespoon 10 milligrams
Cranberries ½ cup 10 milligrams
Strawberries ½ cup 4 milligrams
Grapes ½ cup 6 milligrams
*Source: USDA


So, when it comes to flavanol-3s, what do us dorky scientists recommend?



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