Flavonoid database is online.
Flavonoids make up the largest subgroup of phytonutrients or phytochemicals widely studied by the scientific community because of their purported health benefits. Work on the database began when ARS researchers undertook an extensive search of existing scientific literature and a review of information supplied by food producers. The investigators evaluated the existing flavonoid data and screened it with a USDA-developed data quality evaluation system. Then a quality score was assigned to each value for each food.
These confidence codes, lettered A, B, C or D, appear in a column alongside the values posted in the database. This column gives users a handle on the quality of the data provided. By knowing the flavonoid content of foods, researchers can assess dietary intakes of flavonoids and perhaps identify relationships between those intakes and various chronic-disease risk factors.
Dietary flavonoids fall mainly into five subclasses: flavonols, flavones, flavanones, flavans and anthocyanidins. A plant produces more flavonoids as a protective response when it undergoes stress, such as exposure to ultraviolet radiation, or attack by fungi or bacteria. Increased flavonoid levels are thought to enhance certain biological functions in humans. Some flavonoids have antioxidative, antimicrobial, and possibly anticarcinogenic and cardioprotective capabilities.
The new ARS Flavonoid Database, online at www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp, provides analytical values for selected compounds in about 220 foods. An update will also appear containing new data on 59 food items that are now being analyzed. Scientists developed a new analytical method that simultaneously separates and measures the five major flavonoid classes. The samples of fruits, nuts and vegetables used were collected as part of the National Food and Nutrient Analysis Program developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to improve the quality and quantity of data in USDA's National Nutrient Database.
To access the new database on the Internet, go to www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp. Under the red Food Composition Products label, click on flavonoids.
Further information. Joanne Holden, USDA-ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Building 005, Beltsville, MD 20705; phone: 301-504-0630; fax: 301-504-0632; email: email@example.com.