Most of us recall our parents telling us to eat our vegetables when we were younger, though their efforts may have been met with mixed results. Now it seems that we should have taken heed of their advice — perhaps for different reasons than they gave us.

Current nutritional guidelines advocate the consumption of more fruits and vegetables while reducing the amount of red meat, sugar, and fat in our diet, and for good reason. Fruits and vegetables are not only high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they are also a good source of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which have been found to have a number of health benefits.

Flavonoids are compounds found in variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine, and even chocolate. They are often responsible for giving plants their rich colors, and they are also believed to have a protective health effect against such diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer.

In fact, new data has found that the flavonoids in plant based foods and beverages may lower a the risk for highly aggressive prostate cancer in men. The findings are the result of a large study that looked at the dietary habits of nearly 2000 men (920 African American and 977 European American) that had been newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. Study subjects were asked to describe their dietary histories in order to determine their level of flavonoid consumption. Flavonoid intake was measured by using the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2011 Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.

What they found was that the men who had the highest total intake of flavonoids were 25% less likely to have aggressive prostate cancer when compared with the men who had the lowest intake of flavonoids. This applied even to smokers and was especially pronounced in men under the age of 65 years. The benefits were seen equally amongst African American and European American men.

The data supports previous studies that found that flavonoids could protect against prostate cancer, though there is less available information regarding flavonoids and prostate cancer in humans. Interestingly, the researchers found that there was not a pronounced beneficial effect from any one single sub-class of flavonoids, suggesting that the best diet is one that is rich in a variety of different flavonoid rich foods.

Before changing your diet or increasing your consumption of any type of food, even healthy ones, consult with your physician or a dietary expert. For more information about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have questions or concerns about prostate cancer, talk to you doctor and visit the website for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.