Boost Cardiovascular and Cognitive Health With Flavanols

It is common knowledge that antioxidants and other plant-based nutrients are healthy and beneficial for the body, so most people focus on consuming berries and other fruits and vegetables that are known to have antioxidants. Everyone is always on the lookout for the next big superfood that will boost their overall health. As it turns out, what you should be on the lookout for are foods that are high in flavanols. This may be a new word for you, but flavanols are a nutrient found in some plants that have positive impacts on brain and heart health. If you are wondering what do flavanols do, look no further. 

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What Is a Flavanol?

A flavanol is a naturally occurring compound within some plants that acts as a protective agent and in many cases functions very similarly to antioxidant compounds. This agent does not just serve the plants. It is bioactive for organisms that consume the plants as well. Flavanols are very well-studied nutrients. Grapes, cocoa, and some teas offer significant concentrations of flavanols when consumed. Most people find the taste of the compound rather bitter, which is why most individuals do not prefer more pure chocolate bars containing raw cocoa. 

What Does a Flavanol Do?

A flavanol can improve cardiovascular and cognitive health. It can also help lower blood pressure. Producing a result much like an antioxidant is what makes it desirable as part of your diet. However, instead of doing what an antioxidant does, it more often aids the body in creating its own antioxidants. It can also improve the responsiveness and function of blood vessels. Although the precise effects on the brain are unclear, it appears that a flavanol may increase an adult’s cognitive functions as well, including repairing and preventing cognitive decline in aging adults. Additionally, some studies found that flavanols may reduce the risk of diabetes and promote weight loss.

How Does a Flavanol Work?

A flavanol has multiple functions and can work in different ways. It can decrease blood pressure by suppressing the activity of certain compounds within the body. It can also cause the intestines to absorb fewer proteins and lipids, which decreases the number of calories the body takes in. One of the most instrumental methods a flavanol uses to impact health is increasing levels of nitric oxide. This increase allows nitric oxide to support the delivery of key nutrients to organs as well as maximizing healthy blood flow. This is how it contributes to total body health while also improving heart and brain function specifically.

What Is the Best Way to Consume Flavanols?

As with any nutrient that can be found in food sources, eating plants that offer high quantities of flavanols is the best way to get them into your system. Generally, the body knows how to process nutrients directly from food in its most natural state much more easily than something that has been processed. However, it is often a great challenge to consume enough of certain foods to ensure that your body receives enough of any specific nutrient. A high-quality supplement can serve as a suitable substitution or addition to increasing flavanols in your diet through food. Supplements that have been carefully formulated can also offer more bioavailability than what naturally occurs in certain fruits. 

Though flavanols do not have the power to totally transform physical health without intentional efforts in other areas of an individual’s life, they are a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Increasing your daily intake of flavanols through supplementation may help you reach the health goals that have previously felt like they were always just out of reach.