A high intake of flavonoids -- antioxidant compounds found in certain fruits and vegetables -- may cut risks for fatal heart attack in older women by more than a third. Consumption of broccoli, especially, was strongly associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease death in postmenopausal women. Flavonoids are found in numerous fruits and vegetables, as well as in certain types of tea. These compounds are thought to be antioxidants -- compounds capable of 'mopping up' free radicals, the harmful byproducts of normal metabolism.
Numerous studies have suggested that antioxidants help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses. The study focused on daily intake of three major sources of flavonoids -- apples, broccoli, and tea.
Of the three sources, only high broccoli consumption was associated with significant reductions in heart attack. Flavonoids appear to reduce oxidation of LDL ('bad') cholesterol in the bloodstream, preventing cholesterol from sticking to artery walls, which can lead to clogged arteries and boost heart attack risk.
American Journal of Epidemiology May 15, 1999;149:943-949
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
It is interesting to note that only the vegetable flavonoids were associated with decreased risk of heart disease. Don't be fooled, the major benefits are in the vegetables, not the fruits.