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What Are Flavanones?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Flavanones are compounds that give many plants color, as well as affect their taste. They are types of flavenoids, or plant-based substances also known for interacting with vitamin C, an antioxidant often involved in many biological processes. Types of flavanones include naringin, an bitter-tasting antioxidant found in grapefruit. Hesperidin and eriocitrin are other forms that are often found in lemons, while quercetin is a flavenoid that is also sometimes part of these compounds. Various foods and juices, as well as bee pollen, include such materials; in general, these can aid in the body’s response to viruses, allergens, and even carcinogenic substances.

Normally made up of plant-based chemicals called polyphenols, flavanones are usually colorless. They are typically seen in all parts of flowering plants, and consist of many varieties that differ based on chemical structure. While the structures of each are similar, the function of each variant can be very different, suiting one or the other as a nutritional supplement, for example. Some varieties of flavanone have sugars incorporated, while others do not.

The effects of flavanones are typically beneficial to many processes in the human body. Naringin, for example, sometimes lowers cholesterol and estrogen levels in lab animals, and can also help diabetics fight off problems with the retina in the eye. Another type, hesperin, usually works with vitamin C to build collagen in the skin and joints. Citrus fruits usually contain both of these and are, therefore, often recommended for a healthy diet.

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In addition to taking flavanone supplements, one can ingest such substances by consuming various fruits and vegetables. Red wine and tea are other common sources as well. Flavanones are often believed to work on clearing particles called free radicals, which are sometimes linked to diseases such as cancer. Cells may become damaged due to a process called oxidation, and flavanones can also protect against this type of harm to the body.

Studies have shown that flavanones can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, by making blood platelets less prone to sticking to arteries. The anti-inflammatory properties of quercetin can counteract pollen allergies and airway swelling. Quercetin is often found in onions, apples, and tea and is sometimes prevalent in plants considered to be of medicinal value. Many flavanones interact with antioxidant enzymes, and can also be as effective as vitamin C and E in protecting the body against these compounds.

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