Flavan-3-ols: Daily Plant Compound Intake Guidelines Unveiled - Dr. Axe

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Flavan-3-ols: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Unveils Daily Plant Compound Intake Guidelines


Flavan-3-ols - Dr. Axe

While nutrition gets ever more personalized as time goes on, there are still general dietary guidelines for a whole host of both macronutrients and micronutrients to help guide people on their health journeys. One notable exception for a long time has been plant compounds, specifically flavan-3-ols.

The reason is because that while flavan-3-ols offer many benefits, they aren’t vital to the body working properly in the same way, say, protein and fat are. Still, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics believes people should consume these plant compounds on a regular basis and decided to finally analyze the data and offer the public daily dietary guidelines for flavan-3-ols intake as well.

This is good news considering flavan-3-ols can help protect heart health, manage blood sugar, combat inflammation and oxidative stress, and more.

Dietary Guidelines for Flavan-3-ols

In order to develop a recommended daily intake of flavan-3-ols, researchers examined 157 randomized, controlled trials and 15 cohort studies, reviewing “quality and strength-of-evidence along with risk-of-bias in reporting.”

Here is what they concluded:


In drafting the guideline, data assessments and opinions by authoritative scientific bodies providing guidance on the safety of flavan-3-ols were considered. Moderate evidence supporting cardiometabolic protection resulting from flavan-3-ol intake in the range of 400–600 mg/d was supported in the literature. Further, increasing consumption of dietary flavan-3-ols can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol concentrations, and blood sugar. Strength of evidence was strongest for some biomarkers (i.e., systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and insulin/glucose dynamics). It should be noted that this is a food-based guideline and not a recommendation for flavan-3-ol supplements.

While failing to reach the recommended intake of 400 to 600 milligrams per day of flavan-3-ols won’t necessarily result in a deficiency in the traditional sense, the study authors are confident that hitting that 400- to 600-mg (or more) mark can benefit health in a number of ways.

For example, studies show that flavan-3-ols can help:

The benefits of these plant compounds come thanks to their ability to “exhibit several health beneficial effects by acting as antioxidant, anticarcinogen, cardiopreventive, antimicrobial, anti-viral, and neuro-protective agents.”

Food Sources

It’s important to note that the study authors based the 400- to 600-mg daily recommendation on food sources of flavan-3-ols, not supplements, and it does not appear supplements are recommended at this time. Thus, you want to consume more flavan-3-ol foods to meet these daily intake guidelines and reap the health benefits.

So which foods contain these plant compounds? According to the American Society for Nutrition and research published in Nutrition Research and Practice, some of the top food sources include:

There is not shortage of plant foods that contain flavan-3-ols, which makes meeting the new recommendations fairly easy for vegans, vegetarians and people who follow other plant-based diets. Of course, you don’t need to be strictly a plant-based eater in order to meet these guidelines, so long as you consume a balanced, healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.


  • Plant compounds, such as flavan-3-ols, have many beneficial properties, but since they are technically not required for the body to function properly, guidelines for dietary intake have been largely absent in the nutrition world.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sought to change that, analyzing a host of studies to offer a recommended daily intake of flavan-3-ols, concluding people should consume 400–600 milligrams daily.
  • These recommendations are based on the fact that the plant compounds protect heart health, combat inflammation and improve metabolic syndrome risk factors, among other health benefits.
  • In order to meet the new recommendations, consume more flavan-3-ol foods, such as green and black tea, along with fruits, like apples, pears, berries, grapes and peaches.

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