Having had millenia to figure out a few biochemical tricks, plants have some clever aces up their sleeves. One theory is that plants create an array of flavonoids and pigments, not just to attract the bears and bees, but also to shield their berries, flowers, leaves and DNA from the harshness that nature dishes out, such as droughts or summer-long UV radiation. Because flavonoids also can protect us, having a high-flavonoid diet is a worthy and appetizing nutritional goal. Of the thousands of flavonoids that nature sets forth, a dozen prominent ones are worth getting to know — as in the research, the foods they are found in and how you might increase your consumption. Since aging is, in many ways, a battle against inflammation (“inflammaging”), we can try shifting from sweet to savory foods by adding more culinary herbs to our arsenal.
John Chamberlain is a Lexington English teacher and writer with a passion for nutrition.