5 health and longevity benefits of fisetin

Perhaps you’ve heard of flavonoids as compounds that are good for our health? However, you may not have heard of fisetin, which is a flavonol – a type of flavonoid found in plants and plant-based foods. It’s not a very popular type of flavonoid, and it only occurs in small amounts, but it still works to make us healthier and live longer.

Fruits and vegetables naturally contain flavonoids as metabolic byproducts. When we consume these foods, we also consume these beneficial bioactive compounds.

So why is fisetin good for our health, and what can we eat that contains it?

Benefits of fisetin

Fisetin is a polyphenolic molecule, which has the potential as a medical and therapeutic compound. This means it can have beneficial effects on our physiological well-being in several ways.

Much of this information comes from research by the National Center for Biotechnology Information [1, 3] and Journal for Basic and Clinical Health Sciences [2].

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Fisetin as an antioxidant

Flavonols are excellent triggers for antioxidant activity in our bodies. Fisetin is one such example of a flavonol.

Antioxidants combat oxidative stress, which is a harmful phenomenon that occurs in human cells. It takes place when there is an excess of oxygen reactive species (ROS) in cells, which prevents your body from properly expelling toxins.

Our bodies naturally produce small amounts of ROS through cellular metabolism, but we can pick up excess amounts from environmental stressors such as pollution. This causes an imbalance of ROS in our systems, which can lead to cell and tissue damage – and contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer.

Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress by protecting our cells and systems from toxins, stressors, and harmful molecules. By consuming foods with antioxidative properties (i.e. food that contains fisetin), we can reduce the oxidative stress in our bodies and delay or deter NCDs. [1]

Flavonols are excellent triggers for antioxidant activity in our bodies. Fisetin is one such example of a flavonol.

Fisetin as an anti-inflammatory

Inflammation occurs as a prolonged, impaired immunological response in our bodies due to an external trigger. Infections and viruses can lead to inflammation, while the inflammation itself can lead to conditions such as cardiovascular disease or cancer.

Flavonoids have shown promise as anti-inflammatories – and fisetin in particular. This emerges from increased focus on nutraceuticals (and other bioactive dietary agents) found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and spices. Fisetin has shown to have anti-inflammatory effects which could help prevent or mitigate inflammation in the body. [2]

Fisetin as a chemotherapeutic

Cancer as a disease involves uncontrolled proliferation of harmful cells – including the invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis of these cells in the body. There are several therapeutic treatments available through present-day science, but these have several adverse side-effects, such as damage to healthy cells.

Some studies have shown that fisetin works synergistically with cancer treatments, increasing the death of cancer cells, and suppressing their invasion and metastasis. It can also target tumor cells without toxically affecting the normal cells surrounding the tumors. [2]

Fisetin and cardiovascular health

Research has reported that flavonoids have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. In particular, they may prevent or help manage cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension. Flavonols affected nitric oxide levels, which helps modulate and reduce blood pressure. [3]

Flavonoid intake also shows an inverse association with cardiovascular risk and all-cause mortality. This is even in a research group with low consumption of flavonoid-associated foods such as soy, tea, and cocoa. The results of this study showed that a higher dietary percentage of flavonoids may have a link to reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality. [4]

Fisetin and neurological health

There have been laboratory studies on rats that show fisetin is the most effective flavonoid when it comes to neuroprotective activity.

For example, rats who consumed a fisetin-enriched diet saw significant improvement in learning and memory. It also increased long-term memory and showed anti-depressant effects by boosting serotonin and noradrenaline production. Moreover, rats who consumed strawberry extract showed better performance in retaining spatial information.

Meanwhile, fisetin improved mitochondrial enzyme activity and prevented the onset of disease in rats with a Parkinson’s disease model. [2]

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Sources of fisetin

Fisetin naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables alongside many other flavonoids. As a flavonol, popular sources of fisetin include:

  • Strawberries
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Grapes
  • Scallions
  • Apples

Limitations of fisetin and health

There hasn’t been much research into the long-term effects of fisetin – and especially fisetin supplements – on the human body. This means researchers and scientists do not yet know whether increased consumption of fisetin has any adverse effects. There have been promising signs in animal and laboratory studies, but limited clinical trials.

There’s also no prescribed dosage for fisetin just yet, although the amounts that naturally occur in foods are low. Strawberries, for example, contain 160µg of fisetin per gram, while onions have 4.8µg/g and grapes 3.9µg/g.

Fisetin and longevity

There are several other benefits of fisetin – such as senolytic activity and diabetes modulation – but studies remain limited. Still, as scientific focus turns to nutraceuticals as alternative medical treatments, there may be more research into the effects of fisetin on our overall health.

In the meantime, there’s no harm in adding foods such as strawberries, onions, and apples to your diet – not only are they good for your health, but they’re tasty, too!

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[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/
[2] https://dergipark.org.tr/en/download/article-file/1649692
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26491142/
[4] https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-015-0573-2

Photograph: ready made/Pexels
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