If, like many people, you are prone to winter coughs and colds, this will come as good news: New research from the University of Auckland has found that consuming flavonoids – found in green tea, red wine, cocoa apples, blueberries and onions – can significantly reduce your risk of catching a cold.
The research, which was presented at the Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference in Perth last month, says that adults who eat foods rich in flavonoids or take flavonoid supplements are 33 per cent more protected from the common cold (upper respiratory tract infections), compared with those who don’t.
Researcher Andrea Braakhuis says that nutrition scientists are trying to understand whether flavonoids may also have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, in hopes that flavonoids may boost immune function and reduce the frequency of coughs and colds.
According to Dr Braakhuis, most adults will have two to three colds per year, and children can have up to five. Common symptoms include a sore throat, cough, runny nose and headaches. Colds are a leading cause of visits to a doctor in Australia, but “antibiotics don’t help, so it’s worth giving flavonoids a go as part of a healthy diet”, she said.
The research was unable to recommend whether flavonoid-rich food or supplements would be more effective, and could not recommend appropriate doses, but Dr Braakhuis said that someone who is generally healthy and consumes flavonoids will have a good chance of staving off the bugs over winter.
Flavonoids can be found in many fruits and vegetables, such as beans, eggplant, tomatoes, broccoli and tree fruits. Dr Braakhuis recommends eating five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day in a variety of colours. “Make sure your dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables, sip green tea over winter, and enjoy the occasional red wine”, said Dr Braakhuis.
Read more at Food.