(NaturalHealth365) Quercetin – a flavonoid and plant pigment found in vividly-colored fruits and vegetables – is beginning to emerge as the darling of researchers for its confirmed ability to help prevent heart disease and promote cardiovascular health. In fact, extensive population studies have shown that people with diets rich in quercetin have lower cholesterol, as well as decreased incidence of heart disease and death.
If quercetin’s impressive cardioprotective qualities were all it had to offer, it would still be worthy of study. But it turns out that this beneficial plant compound is a gift from Mother Nature that truly keeps on giving: in addition to promoting heart health, quercetin can also alleviate allergies and enhance immune system function.
Research reveals that quercetin benefits the cardiovascular system in multiple ways
A powerful antioxidant, quercetin has been shown to reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to heart disease. In studies, quercetin helped to reduce damage from experimentally-induced heart attacks.
In addition, high-quercetin diets have been shown to protect against damaging LDL cholesterol, as well as decreasing levels of LDL in the blood. Quercetin also helps decrease risk of heart attack and stroke by reducing harmful atherosclerotic plaque in arteries.
And, quercetin helps the cardiovascular system through yet another mechanism. A recent clinical study showed that 200 mg of quercetin a day enhanced beneficial nitric oxide production and promoted endothelial cell function – thereby demonstrating the flavonoid’s ability to improve circulation and support healthy blood pressure.
Quercetin offers natural relief for allergy misery
Modern research is showcasing the ability of quercetin to combat allergies – but it’s an ability of which natural healers have long been aware. In fact, quercetin has a long history of use in Chinese Traditional Medicine for this very purpose.
A natural antihistamine, quercetin helps to reduce allergic reactions by decreasing the activation of mast cells, which release histamine and other inflammatory signals that are involved with allergies, asthma and skin conditions. For this reason, integrative healthcare providers often suggest quercetin to alleviate sinus congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, hives, runny nose – and other cold and allergy symptoms.
In a 2006 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers found that quercetin not only reduces the release of irritant chemicals such as histamine, but also reduces inflammatory immune system signals coming from mast cells.
In fact, quercetin’s ability to inhibit mast cells is so pronounced that researchers are exploring its use in blocking fatal anaphylactic reactions, such as those resulting from allergies to peanuts.
And, deadly allergies may not be the only life-threatening condition that quercetin can help to alleviate. Because of its ability to relax constricted airway muscles, quercetin shows great potential for treating chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and asthma.
Quercetin amplifies the body’s natural defense system
The purpose of quercetin in plants is to defend against damage from harsh temperatures, chemical toxins and disease. So it’s not surprising that quercetin is not only anti-allergy, but anti-viral and immune-stabilizing as well.
Quercetin has the ability to prevent the depletion of antioxidants and protect the lungs during times of stress, as well as preventing the spread of viruses. Studies have shown that quercetin dramatically boosts the respiratory antioxidant defense system in mice exposed to the H1N1 flu virus.
Further research has confirmed that quercetin interferes with gene signals, thereby blocking viral replication and reducing the ability of viruses to infect their hosts.
Quercetin also boosts natural defenses by helping to increase production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant and a vital immune system component.
There is even some evidence that quercetin may help prolong life. In a 2010 review of studies published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, the authors noted that quercetin could activate SIRT1, the “anti-aging” gene.
How can I use quercetin for health benefits?
Supplemental quercetin is available in pills, capsules or (best) in liposomal form. Although there is no recommended daily amount of quercetin, many natural healers advise dosages of 500 mg taken twice daily.
Of course, you can increase your dietary intake of quercetin by eating healthy amounts of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. Particularly rich sources include unpeeled apples – with one ripe apple containing about 50 mg of quercetin – red onions, green tea, red and purple grapes and red wine. (remember to choose organic varieties – whenever possible)
Quercetin is also found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, dark cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
No doubt: with heart-healthy, allergy-reducing and immune-boosting qualities, quercetin is an invaluable tool for promoting vibrant health and avoiding disease symptoms – safely and naturally.
Sources for this article include:
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