High Flavonoid Intake Associated with Lower Fat Mass in Women, Study Suggests


A registry study of more than 2700 British women found that a higher habitual intake of anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins was linked to lower fat mass.

Photo © iStockphoto.com/shirhan

Photo © iStockphoto.com/shirhan

Researchers in the United Kingdom have published new study results suggesting consumption of a diet high in flavonoids is associated with lower fat mass in women. The registry study included more than 2700 healthy British women, and found that several particular flavonoids showed especially strong associations with reduced fat mass.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers detail how they examined medical records for 2734 healthy, female twins aged 18–83 from the TwinsUK registry. Based on food-frequency questionnaires, they determined the total flavonoid intake of the women, as well as intake levels of 7 flavonoid subclasses, including flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, polymers, and proanthocyanidins. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to assess fat mass, including limb-to-trunk fat mass ratio (FMR), fat mass index, and central fat mass index.

Based on a cross-sectional multivariable analysis, researchers found that higher intake of anthocyanins, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins were associated with a lower FMR. The associations were not changed after further adjustment to account for fiber, total fruit, and vegetable intakes.

Researchers also assessed differences between monozygotic, intake-discordant twin pairs, and found that twins with higher intakes of flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins had significantly lower FMR than their sisters, with within-pair differences ranging from 3% to 4%. Additionally, researchers found that twins with higher intakes of flavonol-rich foods (onions, tea, and pears), proanthocyanidin-rich foods (apples and cocoa drinks), and, in subjects aged 50 or less, anthocyanin-rich foods (berries, pears, grapes, and wine), the twins consuming these flavonoid-rich foods had 3–9% lower FMR than their sisters.

“These data suggest that higher habitual intake of a number of flavonoids, including anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, flavonols, and proanthocyanidins, are associated with lower fat mass independent of shared genetic and common environmental factors,” researchers concluded. “Intervention trials are needed to further examine the effect of flavonoid-rich foods on body composition.”


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Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


Jennings A et al., “Higher dietary flavonoid intakes are associated with lower objectively measured body composition in women: evidence from discordant monozygotic twins,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online January 18, 2017.

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