Flavonols in food tied to 36% lower risk of death

And lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer's

Various rabbit friendly foods, lettuce among them, contain flavonols such as quercetin and kaempferol

What's the news: Flavonol intake is tied to significantly lower levels of all-cause mortality.

Why should we believe it: This news is based on a new study published two weeks ago by scientists in China. They looked at 11,679 U.S. adults who were closely followed over a 20-year period.

The scientists looked at the type and amount of foods in these subjects' diets, and used this to estimate intake of specific food compounds known as flavonols. Results:

  • Total flavonol intake was tied to a 36% lower risk of all-cause mortality

  • Total flavonol intake was also tied to a lower risk of mortality due to cancer (by 55%) and cardiovascular disease (by 33%)

  • A specific flavonol known as myricetin was tied to a 66% lower risk of mortality due to Alzheimer's disease

Why this is a big deal: This is a cross-sectional study, so it doesn't prove causality. But it fits with other cross-sectional studies that have shown that low flavonol diets go hand in hand with higher cardiovascular disease, higher frailty later in life, and increased risk of cancer.

So what specifically can you do now: You can get different flavonols in onions, apples, grapes, tomatoes, kale, broccoli, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries... you probably get the idea. In other words, "get your flavonols" is really a restatement of the old advice to eat your fruits and veggies.

That said, if you suspect you don't get enough flavonols in your diet, then supplements are an option. A May 2023 study found that daily supplementation with 500 mg of flavonol-rich cocoa extract restored memory in a large group of adults who ate low-flavonol diets. My guess is it might be good for health in other ways, too — maybe even for staying alive longer.