Superfood Secret Sauce
What do most of the so called superfoods have in common?
If you have ever pondered on that question then I have the answer. It is quercetin a naturally occurring compound found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs including green tea, grapes, blueberries and red wine and strongly linked with your wellbeing from heart health to immune system support and energy.
What is Quercetin?
Quercetin is a natural flavonoid antioxidant which is mainly found in fruit and vegetables including bright colored fruits like berries and leafy greens like cabbage and broccoli. It is actually considered to be a plant pigment and that explains why it is found in abundance in deep colorful fruits and veg.
For all of us fruit and veggie lovers, we are in luck- quercetin is easily attainable from our daily diets but for those of you who cannot get enough of the stuff from nature, supplements are also available.
Quercetin has proven anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties making it a powerful compound to prevent and tackle a wide variety of illnesses and complaints.
How it Works
Because of its outstanding antioxidant effects, quercetin is extremely effective in managing a plethora of inflammatory conditions that have a negative impact on human health such as heart disease, chronic fatigue and arthritis.
Flavonoid antioxidants like quercetin help because of their ability to fight damage caused by the free radicals we come across every day. Free radicals are known to cause damage to the body by asserting oxidative stress which antioxidants like quercetin can neutralize or at least limit.
Dietary Sources of Quercetin
Deeply colored fruits, vegetables and herbs are jam packed with quercetin. The amount of quercetin contained in the plant depends on a variety of factors including how they are grown, their freshness and methods of preparation. Some of the very best dietary sources of the compound include the following:
- Red wine
- Green tea
- Leafy green vegetables
- Red onions
- Herbs like gingko, St. John’s wort and sage
Benefits of Quercetin
1. It Reduces Inflammation
Research tells us inflammation is at the heart of many diseases including serious conditions like cancer, heart disease, cognitive disorders and autoimmune complaints. The flavonoids in quercetin have antioxidant abilities meaning that they can prevent oxidation and reduce inflammation.
Quercetin from both dietary sources and in supplement form is have proven effective in fighting a variety of conditions linked to inflammation including:
- Heart conditions like atherosclerosis which involves the arteries hardening
- High cholesterol levels
- Circulation issues
- Stomach ulcers
- Brain function
- Asthma and seasonal allergies
- Skin complaints such as hives and dermatitis
2. Quercetin for Allergies
For those of you affected by seasonal allergies and other types of allergy, quercetin is one of the best antidotes. It has natural antihistamine properties as well as being anti-inflammatory meaning that it can help reduce the common symptoms of allergic reaction.
When our bodies encounter a foreign substance that causes a reaction, histamines are released as a natural response and these histamines cause the familiar symptoms such as coughs, watery eyes and runny nose. Being a natural anti-histamine, quercetin can prevent this reaction and has been uses in Chinese medicine for centuries.
Some studies have demonstrated that quercetin is just as effective as prescription medications with none of the side effects associated with the pharmaceutical alternatives. (1)
3. Quercetin for the Heart
Quercetin can benefit the health of your heart in a variety of ways. Its ability to prevent oxidative stress and its anti-inflammatory properties again come to the fore when it comes to your most vital organ.
There is plenty of evidence that dietary flavonoids like quercetin and resveratrol can lessen the risk of getting atherosclerosis, improve blood flow and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Population studies have also showed that antioxidant play a huge role in reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels as well as helping to keep blood pressure levels in check. You may have heard that red wine is good for your heart. That is because flavonoids like quercetin and resveratrol are present in abundance.
4. Quercetin for Energy and Endurance
It is possible that quercetin can improve energy levels and it is actually used as an ingredient in certain athletic supplements. This is because of its ability to improve the circulation of blood. A meta-analysis published in 2012 found that people who took quercetin increased their performance levels and their levels of endurance. (2)
Studies have also found that quercetin could boost the immune system and prevent illnesses in those who train intensively. One study showed that when taken at a dose of 500 mgs twice a day, quercetin helped protect cyclists from respiratory infections. (3)
5. Helps Fight Pain
Because of its excellent anti-inflammatory properties, supplementing with quercetin can help relieve pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune complaints, prostate complaints and urinary tract infections.
6. For Prostatitis
The flavonoids that quercetin contains are thought to be very helpful when it comes to relieving the symptoms of prostatitis or prostate gland inflammation. Population studies have revealed that when people switch from a western diet to a diet rich in antioxidants like the fruits and vegetables containing quercetin, they experience far less prostate pain.
While the research is at an early stage, results so far have been promising. Research done in Boston found that there was a link between diets rich in antioxidants like quercetin and cancer. (4)
According to this research, quercetin may have anti-cancer activities and the ability to destroy cancerous cells. It should be noted that any studies related to quercetin’s effect on cancer has been done on animals and we cannot be certain that it would have the same effect on humans but the early signs are promising.
8. For the Skin
Making sure that you get enough quercetin into your diet or taking quercetin supplements can have a great effect on your skin. That’s hardly surprising given that quercetin is full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help reverse the signs of aging and help reverse the nasty damage that our skin is prone to.
Quercetin may be able to treat dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions without recourse to far more powerful and damaging chemicals often prescribed.
How to Take Quercetin
It is obviously better to get your quercetin from your diet and I’d refer you to the list of delicious fruit and vegetables earlier in the article. For those of you who feel that you cannot get enough quercetin into your diet then supplements are an alternative.
There is no recommended daily dose of quercetin but a vague estimate suggest that most healthy people get between 5 and 40 mgs of it each day.
That seems relatively low and a good diet should push that number a lot higher. If you are taking the supplementary route, doses of 500 mgs taken twice each day are normal and there is certainly no danger in taking it at this level.
Supplements are available in several forms most commonly in capsules and pills. It is also found in various formulas that include bromelain which is another excellent natural anti-inflammatory found in pineapples.
Supplementing with quercetin should not be a cause for alarm but in the interests of completeness, I should mention that there are several potential albeit rare side effects.
- Taking large quantities of quercetin may harm the kidneys.
- It may also interact with blood thinning medications and aspirin.
- There is no research regarding its safety for pregnant women but nor is there any negative evidence. If you feel concerned, take the safe option and consult your doctor.