Have you ever wondered what makes a “superfood” super? Or what top superfoods like red wine, green tea, kale and blueberries all have in common? The answer is quercetin, a natural compound tied to what all of us seek: better longevity, heart health, endurance, immunity, and more.
Quercetin is considered to be the most widely distributed and extensively studied flavonoid, according to a 2018 review.
It’s been shown in dozens of studies to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities. In fact, there isn’t much this powerful antioxidant compound can’t do, especially when combined with the health benefits of bromelain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme.
All this explains why many experts recommend consuming food sources that contain quercetin regularly.
So what are those foods, and how much should you consume? Let’s explore.
What Is Quercetin?
Quercetin is a type of flavonoid antioxidant that’s found in plant foods, including leafy greens, tomatoes, berries and broccoli. It’s technically considered a “plant pigment,” which is exactly why it’s found in deeply colored, nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables.
Considered one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet, quercetin plays an important part in fighting free radical damage, the effects of aging and inflammation, according to many studies.
While you can get plenty of it from eating a healthy diet, some people also take this compound in concentrated supplement form for even stronger anti-inflammatory effects.
What is quercetin used for? According to the Department of Pathology and Diagnostics at the University of Verona in Italy, quercetin glycosides and other flavonoids, (like kaempferol and myricetin) are “anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agents.”
They have potential to be expressed positively in different cell types in both animals and humans.
Flavonoid polyphenols are most beneficial for down-regulating or suppressing inflammatory pathways and functions. Quercetin is considered the most diffused and known nature-derived flavonol there is, showing strong effects on immunity and inflammation caused by leukocytes and other intracellular signals.
How It Works
Research shows that anti-inflammatory foods containing quercetin can help manage a number of inflammatory health problems, including heart disease and blood vessel problems, allergies, infections, chronic fatigue, and symptoms related to autoimmune disorders like arthritis. How exactly do flavonoids benefit us?
It all comes down to high-antioxidant foods‘ ability to be “scavenge free radicals.”
As a major bioflavonoid in our diets, quercetin (a type of “polyphenolic antioxidant”) helps slow the aging progress because it lessens the effects of oxidative stress on the body. Oxidative stress takes place in all of us but is increased by things like a poor diet, high levels of stress, a lack of sleep and exposure to chemical toxins.
Quercetin plays a role in regulating the immune system’s response to outside stressors through cell signaling pathways called kinases and phosphatases, two types of enzyme and membrane proteins needed for proper cellular function.
1. Lowers Inflammation
Flavonoids, (aka bioflavonoids or bioflavonoide) including quercetin, are important anti-inflammatories because they act as antioxidants, which mean they literally fight the natural process of “oxidation” that takes place over time as we age.
Quercetin can help stop damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which negatively impact how cells work — including damaging cell membranes, changing the way DNA works, increasing cell mutations and causing healthy cells to die. It can also reduce expression of inflammatory genes such as interleukin.