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Ask Tufts Experts February 2019 Issue

Q. I prefer tea to coffee, and I also eat a lot of fruit and enjoy some dark chocolate. Does it matter what food I get flavanols from?


Image PauloVilela | Getty Images

Tea is a better flavanol source than coffee, but coffee has other beneficial compounds. Drink what you like.

A. Judith Thalheimer, RD, LDN, managing editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter answers: “Different plant foods have different phytochemical and nutrient profiles, so a varied diet provides exposure to a wide variety of these compounds, including flavanols. There is no reason to eat or drink something you don’t enjoy just for the potential health benefits.

“Flavanols are one of the six major subclasses of flavonoids, polyphenolic plant compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective effects in cell and animal studies, and are being extensively studied for potential health effects in humans. Tea and cocoa are two of the best sources of some flavanols, but different types are also found in other foods, including apples, apricots, and red wine. Coffee does not contain high levels of flavanols, but it has other potentially health-promoting compounds.

“There are many different kinds of flavanols, and content varies from food to food (and most likely from variety to variety and from farm to farm, depending on soil and growing conditions, not to mention the impact of cooking and processing methods). As long as you are eating a healthy varied diet rich in plant foods, you can be assured you are getting flavanols, and plenty of other healthful plant compounds as well.”

Comments (2)

Dear Staff,
"There is no reason to eat or drink something you don't enjoy just for the health benefits" Completely and absolutely WRONG. Wrong psychology and wrong motivation and wrong way to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Tell me: when you go to conventions & conferences in your field, you have to choose what seminars to attend each hour, correct? How do you choose? What is your decision BASED ON? Do you go to the ones that you will ""enjoy"" and find interesting? Or do you go to the ones that are important and necessary for knowledge? What is the healthier approach? Do you avoid those ""boring"" seminars that may be 'good for you' because you lack that knowledge (precisely because the topic is boring, so that knowledge is likely missing from your basic education in the field)?
Now, do you want to promote fun/interest in eating properly and leading a healthy life -- with the 'boring' and 'bland' or 'tasteless' foods overlooked and passed by *regardless* of their nutritional value? Is that the way to promote and lead the way?
Again, the nutritional field follows their own motto: "The Tongue has Won....leaving you Undone" & "Taste out of Place...Complacency in Place"

Posted by: | July 31, 2019 12:33 AM    Report this comment

Well, my 300 lb friend REALLY enjoys fried chicken with fries, biscuit and GRAVY please and she enjoys the BIG steaks. Broccoli, not so much. So, I agree that maybe...just maybe we should try something we are not sure that we like--green tea? and then maybe even try it again. Laurence, I agree that we have become such a self indulgent society that even nutritionists might say "well, if you don't just LOVE it, don't worry about it." Wrong message

Posted by: tennbarb | August 7, 2019 8:52 AM    Report this comment

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