Food fascinates me. And the way food works on the body, whether good or bad, depends on what sort of food you allow into your system. One of the buzz words that I want to talk about, is quercetin.
Quercetin are flavonoids that give many fruits, flowers, and vegetables their color. Flavonoids scavenge damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. They also help keep LDL cholesterol from being damaged, which scientists think may contribute to heart disease. In test tubes, quercetin has strong antioxidant properties, but researchers aren’t sure whether taking quercetin (and many other antioxidants) has the same effects inside the body.
Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Researchers have found the health benefits of quercetin to be pretty darn amazing:
- Anti-oxidative: Five times more power than vitamin C
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces our natural inflammatory response to exercise
- Anti-pathogenic: Stops multiplication of viruses and bacteria
- Immunoregulatory: Controls certain parts of the immune system
- Mitochondrial biogenesis: Helps boosts exercise performance
Much research is still being done on this, but so far quercetin has been found to be linked to a reduced risk of colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer (especially in smokers), along with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Quercetin is high in certain fruits and veggies including (from highest concentration to the lowest): elderberries, red onions, white onions, cranberries, kale, blueberries, red apples, pears, romaine, spinach, cherry tomatoes, green tea, black tea, cherries, black grapes, broccoli, red wine, blackberries, red grapes, raspberries and strawberries. So, yeah, quercetin is in lots of yummy foods! Quercetin is also available in supplement form, but researchers say getting it from whole foods is best because there are so many other unknown combinations for nutrients and flavonoids going on in each fruit and veggie.
Quercetin has been shown to help with workouts and recovery from exercise. One study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that taking quercetin in supplement form improved the aerobic endurance of a group of healthy but unfit individuals. Marathon runners who take quercetin are less likely to get sick after a race than those who don’t.
Health Benefits of Quercetin
Quercetin, a member of the flavonoids family, exerts many beneficial health effects, including improvement of cardiovascular health, reducing risk for cancer, protection against osteoporosis. This phytochemical has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and antitoxic effects. Most of these properties are linked to its strong antioxidant action of quercetin but quercetin also modulates the expression of specific enzymes. Quercetin induces apoptosis and influences protein and lipid kinase signaling pathways. Quercetin is a candidate for preventing obesity-related diseases.
Quercetin may help to reduce symptoms of diabetes patients. One study showed that quercetin reduced blood glucose level and improved improved plasma insulin levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. An in-vitro study concluded that quercetin may have a pharmacological application in treating cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus patients.
Quercetin shows anti-inflammatory action by its direct antioxidant action and inhibition of inflammatory mediators and enzymes, such as lipoxygenase. Quercetin also inhibits the release of histamine, which causes congestion, by basophils and mast cells. Studies have shown an improved lung function and lower risk of certain respiratory diseases (asthma and bronchitis) for people with high apple (rich in quercetin) intake. Patients with increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress might benefit most from a quercetin supplementation.
Studies demonstrate that flavonoid-rich diets protect against myocardial infarction and stroke. As many other flavonoids, quercetin inhibits oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that quercetin reduces cancer risk of prostate, ovary, breast, gastric and colon cells. Numerous in-vitro studies show that quercetin induces apoptosis of cancer cells through different mechanisms.
Quercetin supplementation has been linked with improved performance, but supporting evidence is week and often conflicting. Scientists suggest that quercetin may aid performance through its anti-inflammatory properties or by stimulating the activity of mitochondria.