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8 Inflammation-Calming Foods That May Help You Live Longer

Danielle Zickl
Photo credit: Lew Robertson - Getty Images

From Bicycling

  • According to a new study in the journal Nature Communications, foods rich in flavonoids—which help reduce inflammation—can lower your risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.
  • It’s recommended to get about 500 milligrams (mg) per day of flavonoids from foods like berries, apples, grapes, bananas, artichokes, avocados, tea, and dark chocolate.

You already eat fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy, balanced diet. But while you may know that they are good for you, you may not know exactly how good they are—and what makes them so health-protective.

According to new research out of Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, compounds found in many of these fruits and vegetables may be responsible for some of the benefits: Called flavonoids, these compounds can help reduce your risk of dying early due to chronic disease.

In the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers crunched the data from the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health cohort, which looked at the diets of 56,048 Danes over 23 years.

Their findings? Participants who consumed around 500 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids per day had the lowest risk of dying early from cancer or heart disease. However, the link was strongest for those at a higher risk of these diseases, such as people who smoked cigarettes regularly or consumed more than two alcoholic drinks each day.


Here’s why: According to Nicola Bondonno, Ph.D., study coauthor and postdoctoral research fellow at ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, underlying inflammation and tissue and cell damage can up your risk of heart disease and cancer. Flavonoid compounds have been shown to reduce these levels.

“We think that might be why people who have a diet rich in these flavonoid compounds have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer,” she told Runner’s World. “As smoking and high alcohol consumption can increase inflammation, this may be why flavonoids are more protective in people who smoke and drink too much.”

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However, even if you don’t smoke and drink regularly, everyone can benefit from getting about 500 mg of flavonoids per day, according to Bondonno. She did note that those who do smoke or drink regularly “might obtain further benefit” from consuming more than 500 mg of flavonoids per day.

So what kinds of foods are rich in these flavonoids? According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry some good sources include:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Tea
  • Dark Chocolate

For instance, 100 g of dark chocolate contains around 200 mg of flavanols—a main type of flavonoid—and one apple contains around 60 mg of flavanols. Fitting in a variety of these foods in meals and snacks can help you get to that flav

But while these flavonoid-filled foods and drinks can benefit your health, they don’t counteract all of risks associated with smoking and high alcohol consumption, Bondonno said. So while a postride beer is a refreshing treat every once in a while, it’s best to stick with a celebratory cup of joe if you want several cups.

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