To discover why luteolin is a powerhouse when it comes to protecting your mind and body from the harmful effects of inflammation, we researched Uma Naidoo, M.D.—A nutrition psychiatrist and Harvard trainer, professional chef, nutrition biologist, and national and international bestselling author, This is your brain on food— for her thoughts. Plus: the seven luteolin foods she recommends most.
What is luteolin?
Dr. Naidoo begins by saying that luteolin is common Flavonoids are found in many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. “Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant — specifically a polyphenols“This helps plant cells defend themselves against a variety of environmental or situational stresses,” she says. When you eat plant foods that contain them, flavonoids display their antioxidant capabilities by protecting cells from damage from oxidative stress and inflammation. “Specifically, luteolin has been shown to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in humans,” adds Dr. Naidoo.
How does luteolin benefit your health?
The majority of luteolin benefits can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory effects, which work wonders in… Promote health and well-being in all areas. “Luteolin is associated with reduced brain fog, reduced stress and anxiety symptoms, improved memory, and reduced risk of cognitive decline,” says Dr. Naidoo. “It has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and improved cardiovascular health – likely due to its effects in lowering inflammation in the blood vessels – and has been implicated in improving cancer treatment due to its antitumor properties.”
Simply put, luteolin is an antioxidant that helps sharpen your cognition, boost mental health, and stave off the possibility of developing or exacerbating some very serious health issues – so it’s wise to get more of it in your diet.
The Best Foods Containing Luteolin, According to a Nutritional Psychologist
Parsley is one of Dr. Naidoo’s favorite herbs, as it is a major source of neuro-health-promoting micronutrients, with luteolin (and folic acid) among them. “Parsley can help boost mental fitness, brain health, energy levels, and general cognition,” she explains, adding that she loves adding this herb to salads and loading up parsley-rich chimichurri with grass-fed steaks, grilled tofu, or cauliflower.
This purple leafy vegetable is another great source of luteolin, which makes it a good choice to use as a base for salads or even as a substitute for rolls and tortilla chips. “Its leaves are like little boats, so I love making healthy tacos by stuffing radicchio leaves with other chopped greens, avocado, and a clean protein, seasoned with cumin, oregano, and a dash of fresh lemon,” shares Dr. Naidoo. Taco Tuesday with a side of brain-boosting and heart-healthy benefits, anyone?
3. Green pepper
Aside from being rich in luteolin, green pepper also contains several other bioactive compounds that “show antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, antitumor, and neuroprotective properties,” per 2021 review in medical journal Molecules. Dr. Naidoo advises eating green peppers either “raw and chopped into a colorful salad, or grilled on colorful skewers alongside other seasonal vegetables.” Bonus points go to those who add these colorful peppers to the radic tacos above.
4. Green dandelion
While I’m familiar with hickory thanks to New Orleans style coffee (which includes roasting, grinding, and plant root fermentation), Dr. Naidoo says that greens can be incorporated into meals similar to other leafy vegetables. However, I cautioned that they have a strong flavor profile, so here are some tips for enjoying them without overwhelming your taste buds. “I recommend adding dandelion greens to soups or stews, or sauteing them in avocado oil for a delicious side dish,” she advises.
Whether you prefer celery raw, cooked, or juiced, this versatile vegetable can help you boost your intake of the anti-inflammatory luteolin. Dr. Naidoo mentions that it’s a staple in many nutritious soup recipes (in fact, I’m slow cooking chicken soup loaded with chopped legs from it now), and it pairs well with chickpeas or almond butter for a healthy treat. A crunchy, hydrating snack.
As if we needed another reason to love this fall staple, pumpkin is also a good source of luteolin. “I love roasting and mashing pumpkin into a warm soup with earthy spices like cinnamon and cloves,” says Dr. Naidoo. In the off-season, you may also want to eat a handful of pumpkin seeds or incorporate them into any of them number of recipesas they are It contains small amounts of anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
The last one Dr. Naidoo goes to for luteolin foods is cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable that tastes similar to broccoli. “Cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables. I love to clean it and chop up pieces to chew on,” she shares. You can also mix it into salads or enjoy it steamed, fried or grilled as part of larger meals.