A food composition database for the plant compounds flavonoids has been launched by the Agricultural Research Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture.
The new database provides analytical values for different flavonoid compounds in about 224 foods, according to ARS, which said additional food items will be added as more data become available.
The flavonoids are the largest group of plant chemicals now widely studied by the scientific community because of their purported health benefits. Dietary flavonoids fall mainly into five subclasses and are found in certain teas, wines, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, roots - and even chocolate.
In addition to antioxidative effects, certain flavonoids are reported to have antimicrobial and possibly anticarcinogenic and cardioprotective effects. Food flavonoids include, for example, anthocyanidins in blueberries and cherries; catechins in tea, red wine and apples; and quercetin in onions.
Researchers will be able to find out the flavonoid content of certain foods using the new database. This information is necessary to evaluate associations between flavonoid intakes and risk factors for various age-related and degenerative diseases.
Other supplemental databases include those for carotenoids and isoflavones. The ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, also runs the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, which is an authoritative source of food composition information in the United States.