What Is Quercetin? Benefits, Foods And Side Effects – Forbes Health

Quercetin is used for a variety of potential health benefits, from heart and brain health to allergies. Quercetin can be:

Anti-inflammatory. “Studies suggest quercetin may help alleviate inflammation in various conditions, including arthritis, allergies and cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Schweig. When the body encounters harmful or irritating substances, inflammation occurs as a natural response for protection and recovery. Inflammation doesn’t always indicate an infection, as it can also be the body’s way of healing itself. Quercetin helps regulate inflammation by inhibiting enzymes involved in the inflammatory process.

Cardioprotective. “Quercetin exhibits cardioprotective benefits,” says Costa. In human studies, quercetin is shown to improve artery health by increasing dilation and reducing blood pressure in participants with hypertension (high blood pressure), which can cause artery damage and ultimately result in heart attack or stroke. “Quercetin [can also] counteract oxidation, a process that hardens arteries by altering LDL (bad) cholesterol,” says Dr. Schweig.

Anti-diabetic. “Quercetin has been studied for its potential benefits in reducing the risk of diabetes,” says Dr. Schweig. A 2022 Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy review suggests quercetin can decrease high blood sugar and improve antioxidant defense within cells. The same review notes that in a Chinese population, daily consumption of quercetin reduced the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

Anti-allergic. “Quercetin may act as an antihistamine, reducing the release of histamine and other inflammatory mediators that contribute to allergy symptoms,” says Dr. Schweig. In human studies, a four-week, randomized-controlled trial published in 2022 looked at the effects of quercetin supplementation in Japanese participants with seasonal allergy. Participants who took the quercetin supplement experienced significant improvement in allergy symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing and nasal discharge compared to the placebo group.

Anti-cancer. “The anti-cancer effects of quercetin may be due in part to its ability to reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells,” notes Dr. Schweig. In human studies, quercetin combined with curcumin (a compound in turmeric) reduced the size and number of abnormal growths in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, a condition in which numerous abnormal growths form in the colon and rectum.

Neuroprotective. “Quercetin can improve brain function and reduce neuroinflammation, key factors in age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke,” says Dr. Schweig. A 40-week randomized-controlled trial published in 2022 studied the effects of regular consumption of a quercetin-containing beverage on Japanese subjects with age-related cognitive decline. The group that consumed the quercetin drink showed significant improvement in reaction time. The study indicates that the quercetin treatment may prevent a decrease in cerebral blood flow and cerebral activity related to stress, although the difference between the treatment and placebo groups wasn’t significant.

Antimicrobial. “Studies indicate that quercetin possesses wide-ranging antimicrobial characteristics,” says Dr. Schweig. In human studies, quercetin’s antiviral effects have been studied in relation to COVID-19, says Dr. Schweig and Costa. However more research is needed to determine its effectiveness, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Anti-toxin. “Quercetin can also act as a binding agent for pesticides and heavy metals, helping to remove toxins from the body,” says Costa, citing a 2022 Molecules review that summarizes quercetin’s potential to prevent and control toxins caused by food spoilage, fungus and various poisons harmful to plants, animals and humans.

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