The first question is what are Flavonoids? They are plant compounds found in large amounts in soy beans and some other legumes (beans). They are also to a lesser extent in tea, onions, and apples and are powerful anti-oxidants. Importantly, they furnish a weak form of estrogen that interferes with your own powerful estrogens attachment to certain receptor sites in breast, prostate, colon and other hormonally influenced sites where your estrogens are felt to induce certain cancers. Flavonoids are found in most plants, but are particularly high in soy and flax seed oil, where they exceed other plant levels by as much as 1000%.
The Okinowans are the longest living people on earth, and a study done by Bradley J. Wilcox, M.D., D. Craig Willcox, Ph. D., and Makoto Suzuki, M.D. reveals in their book “The Okinawa Program” that along with other differences in their diet and life style, the intake of flavonoids is a main factor in their longevity. Prostate, breast and colon cancer are almost unheard of in Okinowans, with the exception of their younger population who have adopted a more Western type diet. In addition to a reduction in hormone-dependent cancers, it is believed that flavonoids are responsible for their low incidence of heart disease. Good news is if you eat a meal that is high in flavonoids, measurable levels are still present in your blood stream for 36 hours.
What’s the easiest way to take Flavonoids? In my home we eat oatmeal with berries and fruit every morning, and we use soy milk instead of regular milk. In addition, we eat edamame for snacks, which is the actual bean in the pod. It is delicious, and a great appetizer as well. Don’t eat the pod though! Flaxseed is a wonderful supplement, and it also contains Omega-3, which we all know is most important. (Don’t rely on Flaxseed for your sole Omega-3 supplement, however). Other ways to increase your Flavonoid intake are with tofu and, would you believe, Kudzu, also called Arrowroot. We in Georgia understand Kudzu better than in most areas. Remember that most vegetables contain some flavonoids, particularly broccoli, kale, bean sprouts, onions, celery, and turnip greens. Flavonoid -rich fruits are apples, cranberries, grapes, and strawberries. And don’t forget your cup of black or green tea.
E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS