Intake of potentially anticarcinogenic flavonoids and their determinants in adults in The Netherlands

Nutr Cancer. 1993;20(1):21-9. doi: 10.1080/01635589309514267.


Flavonoids are strong antioxidants that occur naturally in foods and can inhibit carcinogenesis in rodents. Accurate data on population-wide intakes of flavonoids are not available. Here, using data of the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey 1987-1988, we report the intake of the potentially anticarcinogenic flavonoids quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, apigenin, and luteolin among 4,112 adults. The flavonoid content of vegetables, fruits, and beverages was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. In all subjects, average intake of all flavonoids combined was 23 mg/day. The most important flavonoid was the flavonol quercetin (mean intake 16 mg/day). The most important sources of flavonoids were tea (48% of total intake), onions (29%), and apples (7%). Flavonoid intake did not vary between seasons; it was not correlated with total energy intake (r = 0.001), and it was only weakly correlated with the intake of vitamin A (retinol equivalents, r = 0.14), dietary fiber (r = 0.21), and vitamin C (r = 0.26). Our use of new analytic technology suggests that in the past flavonoid intake has been overestimated fivefold. However, on a milligram-per-day basis, the intake of the antioxidant flavonoids still exceeded that of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E. Thus flavonoids represent an important source of antioxidants in the human diet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Flavonols
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Structure
  • Netherlands


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Flavonoids
  • Flavonols