Dietitians Dish: The most powerful phytochemical

By Stephanie Whitley
April 8, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 7, 2014 at 11:08 p.m.

Flavonoids, also known as vitamin P until the 1950s, is "the most powerful phytochemical found in nature," according to

Displayed as yellow and red and blue pigment in plants, flavonoids are used to attract pollinators, provide ultraviolet filtration and protect plants from harmful microbes and fungi.

Since flavonoids have so many benefits in the plants they originate in, when we eat those plants, we also get some of those benefits. Some foods that contain flavonoids are parsley, onions, berries, black tea, green tea, oolong tea, bananas, all citrus, red wine and dark chocolate.

One food I want to focus on that is high in flavonoids is blueberries, which when tested had more antioxidant power in comparison to 20 other fruits and vegetables, according to Wild blueberries contain the most antioxidant power.

If you can find some that are flash-frozen when harvested, that is the ultimate choice. Of course, fresh and frozen blueberries from farms also contain the same benefits - just not as concentrated. Blueberries are high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, folic acid, iron and potassium. However, it is all of the other phytochemicals in them that seem to produce such great health benefits.

Some of these benefits are reduced intake of urinary tract infection, resistance to asthma, protection against cardiovascular disease, reduced short-term memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, improves eye health, reduces risk of osteoporosis and reduces blood clotting, according to nutrition Those are some significant benefits from eating a food most of us enjoy and is available year-round, at least in the frozen produce section.

The British Journal of Nutrition found that consuming a cup of blueberries a day can improve total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Experimental Neurology conducted a study that shows blueberries can even reverse deficits in brain function.

One thing to be aware of is that blueberries are highly oxalate, which can block some of the absorption of calcium. It may be best not to consume your calcium-rich foods or multivitamin with your blueberries. Otherwise, dive into a bowl of blueberries as often as possible and reap the benefits of your new go-to snack.

Stephanie Whitley is a registered and licensed dietitian DeTar Healthcare Systems. Send questions or comments to



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