There’s nothing quite like a steaming cup of tea to warm us up in the colder months and help relax our minds – but did you know it has serious health benefits too?  

Drinking tea is good for our health and there have been multiple studies hailing the extensive benefits of drinking black tea. New research, however, shows that drinking tea every day might be even better for us than previously thought, especially later in life.

So, what exactly does black tea contain that makes it so healthy? The answer is flavonoids, which are naturally occurring substances found in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods.  

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In a new study from Edith Cowan University in Australia, 881 elderly women who consumed a diet high in flavonoids (with black tea being the main source of flavonoids) were far less likely to have a build-up of abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) – a predictor of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Participants who had two to six cups of black tea daily were up to 42% less likely to have extensive ACC, compared with participants who didn’t drink tea.

Not a tea drinker? Not to worry – flavonoids are also found in lots of other food and drink, including apples, blueberries, oranges, dark chocolate and red wine.

Stylist spoke with Nataly Komova, a registered nutritionist and fitness expert at JustCBD, to find out more about the incredible health benefits of flavonoids.  

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What are the benefits of eating food high in flavonoids?

Flavonoids can help lower inflammation 

“Several medical reviews have evaluated the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of flavonoids and results show that they can lower cellular reaction to pain,” says Komova. Multiple studies have shown that flavonoids can help in the treatment of various inflammatory diseases including arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and many allergic reactions.

They can help fight viral infections

“Flavonoids contain antiviral and antibacterial properties, with studies indicating that flavonoids can fight viruses and act as preventative measures,” says Komova. In fact, one study showed that flavonoids were more powerful than market-available drugs to treat viral infections. 

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They can help reduce high blood pressure

In a study of over 900 adults in Germany, participants who consumed foods high in flavonoids, including berries, apples, pears and wine, had lower blood pressure levels than those who had a diet low in flavonoids. They also had greater diversity in their gut microbiome (which is a key indicator of good gut health).

Flavonoids may help prevent cancer

“Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants and certain flavonoids have also been shown to suppress certain types of cancer,” explains Komova. A 2020 study that explored the role of flavonoids as anticancer agents found that a daily intake of flavonoid-rich foods or supplements could lead to positive changes in the gut microbiota, decreasing the risk of cancer.

It’s worth noting, however, that there are many factors that can lead to a person developing cancer, and further research is certainly needed in this field.  

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