Blueberries are foods rich in flavonoids

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) says in research presented at the DAA National Conference in Perth, Western Australia in May that adults are 33% more protected from the common cold (upper respiratory tract infections – URTI), if they eat foods rich in flavonoids or take flavonoid supplements, compared with those who don’t.

In good news for those prone to winter coughs and colds, research shows consuming flavonoids – found in green tea, apples, blueberries, cocoa, red wine and onions – can significantly reduce the risk of catching a cold, the DAA said.

Researcher Andrea Braakhuis from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, said people who ingest flavonoids also have fewer sick days.

“These findings show that if you’re generally healthy, eating flavonoids – available in fruits and vegetables – can help stave off the bugs over winter,’ said Dr Braakhuis.

She said most adults have two to three colds a year, and children can have up to five, with symptoms including a sore throat, cough, runny nose and headache.

“We’d all love to make it through winter without one of these nasty colds. They’re a leading cause of visits to a doctor, yet antibiotics don’t help, so it’s worth giving flavonoids a go as part of a healthy diet,” said Dr Braakhuis.

Dr Braakhuis said nutrition scientists are learning more about the special components in foods, like flavonoids, which are thought to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so can help reduce the incidence of coughs and colds and boost immune function.

“Eating five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day in a variety of colours will put you well on the path to getting enough flavonoids. Make sure your dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables, sip green tea over winter, and enjoy the occasional red wine,” said Dr Braakhuis.