Nutrient to Know: Quercetin

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This lesser-known nutrient is becoming more mainstream. Find out if quercetin is plentiful in your daily diet.

What is it?

Quercetin is classified as a bioflavinoid, a plant substance with important physiological qualities. It's plentiful in a wide variety of foods but has become increasingly popular in supplement form. But buyer beware: Large doses from supplements may be unsafe and cause kidney damage.

Why is it good for you?

Quercetin acts as an anti-inflammatory and a cell-protecting antioxidant. Research has also found that it may help protect heart function and prevent certain types of cancer. A study from 1999 found some evidence to support that quercetin may help to alleviate pain and swelling associated with prostate swelling in men. A handful of dietary supplements marketed to athletes include this bioflavinoid, but there's not enough scientific evidence to back up that it will enhance performance. That said, getting extra antioxidants from food certainly won't hurt.

Where can you find it?

Quercetin can be found in fruits like berries and apples, and vegetables like kale, onion, broccoli, radishes and green beans. It can also found in beverages like red wine and tea. Capers, lovage, cocoa powder, chokeberries, elderberry juice and buckwheat are some more unique sources. Quercetin is especially plentiful in the leaves and skins of fruits and veggies so be sure not to peel them away.

Tell Us: Are you getting a daily dose of quercetin?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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