The research, presented at the Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference in Perth this week (Friday 15th May), shows adults are 33 percent more protected from the common cold (upper respiratory tract infections – URTI), if they eat flavonoids or take flavonoid supplements, compared with those who do not.
Nutrition researcher Dr Andrea Braakhuis from the University of Auckland says people who eat flavonoids also have fewer sick days.
“These findings show that if you’re generally healthy, eating flavonoids found in lots of fruits and vegetables, can help stave off the bugs over winter,” says Dr Braakhuis.
She says most adults have two to three colds a year and children can have up to five, with symptoms including a sore throat, cough, runny nose and headache.
“We’d all love to make it through winter without one of these nasty colds. They’re a leading cause of visits to a doctor, yet antibiotics don’t help, so it’s worth giving flavonoids a go as part of a healthy diet,” says Dr Braakhuis.
Dr Braakhuis says nutrition scientists are learning more about the special components in foods, like flavonoids, which are thought to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so can help reduce the incidence of coughs and colds and boost immune function.
At this stage, she says it’s too soon to recommend whether foods or supplements are a better source of flavonoids, and what the ideal dose is.
“Eating five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day, in a variety of colours, will put you well on the path to getting enough flavonoids. Make sure your dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables, sip green tea over winter and enjoy the occasional red wine,” says Dr Braakhuis.
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