Food fascinates me. So when Tish and I were able to sit in on a talk at the Dole Healthy Lifestyle Blogger Summit with Dr. David C. Nieman, a leading sports nutrition researcher, I was geeked. I love to learn about the latest research on food and working out. For some, it’s totally scientific mumbo-jumbo, but for me it’s fascinating. While there’s no way I could possibly come close to doing Dr. Nieman’s presentation justice here, I did want to share a few things we learned about an up-and-coming flavonoid you’re going to hear much, much more about in the coming months and years: quercetin.
The 411 on Quercetin
What is quercetin? Quercetin is a particular type of flavonoid. Which is basically a super-cool antioxidant.
Why should I care about quercetin? Researchers have found the health benefits of quercetin to be pretty darn amazing:
- Anti-oxidative: Five times more power than vitamin C
- Anti-inflammatory: Reduces our natural inflammatory response to exercise
- Anti-pathogenic: Stops multiplication of viruses and bacteria
- Immunoregulatory: Controls certain parts of the immune system
- Mitochondrial biogenesis: Helps boosts exercise performance
What can quercetin do? Much research is still being done on this, but so far quercetin has been found to be linked to a reduced risk of colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer (especially in smokers), along with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
How can I get quercetin in my belly? Quercetin is high in certain fruits and veggies including (from highest concentration to the lowest): elderberries, red onions, white onions, cranberries, kale, blueberries, red apples, pears, romaine, spinach, cherry tomatoes, green tea, black tea, cherries, black grapes, broccoli, red wine, blackberries, red grapes, raspberries and strawberries. So, yeah, quercetin is in lots of yummy foods! Quercetin is also available in supplement form, but researchers say getting it from whole foods is best because there are so many other unknown combinations for nutrients and flavonoids going on in each fruit and veggie.
How can quercetin help my workouts? Quercetin has been shown to help with workouts and recovery from exercise. One study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that taking quercetin in supplement form improved the aerobic endurance of a group of healthy but unfit individuals. Dr. Nieman has also found that marathon runners who take quercetin are less likely to get sick after a race than those who don’t.
What are quercetin’s limits? Although quercetin may be able to do a lot and shows promise to do even more (we sure do wish it could do our taxes!), it’s no cure-all. More research is needed, but taking quercetin in supplement form is no substitute for doing all the things that you know make you healthy and happy: regular exercise, eating healthy foods, de-stressing regularly, loving yourself—you know, the good stuff! But eating lots of it in whole foods certainly can’t hurt.
Are any of your fave foods high in quercetin? Time to go eat a red apple and drink some wine if you ask me! —Jenn