Where Can I Find Quercetin in Foods?

Published on February 21, 2023

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

What do berries, red wine, and green tea have in common?

  1. They are all considered superfoods.
  2. They have all been proven to help promote longevity and good health.
  3. They all contain a powerful antioxidant known as Quercetin.

Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant plant pigment that gives foods their signature deep colors. 

It’s also one of the most studied and prevalent flavonoids found in foods, having demonstrated potential benefits for skin health, histamine response, heart health, gut health, weight management, and pain.

This has made it a popular ingredient in supplements, skin care, and anti-aging products.

However, you don’t necessarily need to take a supplement to reap the benefits of this antioxidant.

Quercetin is abundantly available in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs. 

In this article, you’ll learn where to find Quercetin in foods, plus tips on getting the most Quercetin from your diet.

What is Quercetin?

Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant found in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

It’s also our top source of flavanol antioxidants, making up 75% of our intake, per research published in the journal Nature.REF#606

Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant pigments found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, wine, and seeds.REF#607

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay cell damage from excess free radicals (unstable molecules).REF#608

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, causing them to oxidize. Free radical damage can cause or contribute to premature aging, chronic inflammation, pain, and various chronic diseases.

As an antioxidant, Quercetin, along with other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, acts like a vacuum, cleaning up excess free radicals and helping cells stay healthy.

Benefits of Quercetin

So, why should you bother eating Quercetin-rich foods?

In addition to its antioxidant superpowers, Quercetin has demonstrated several specific health benefits in published studies.

Some examples include:

  • Quercetin may help relieve or prevent pollen season sniffles by promoting normal immune response and histamine secretion.REF#609 REF#610
  • Quercetin has demonstrated a statistically significant benefit in human endurance exercise capacity and endurance exercise performance.REF#611 It’s also been shown to help support immunity during intense exercise. REF#612
  • Quercetin has shown various supportive effects on heart health, including cholesterol, inflammatory response, nitric oxide, and endothelial function.REF#613
  • Quercetin may provide multi-level support for the gut microbiome due to its cell-stabilizing properties, which support intestinal barrier function.REF#614 It also provides prebiotic benefits for gut flora.REF#615
  • Quercetin has also demonstrated pain-relieving effects via its antioxidant effects on inflammatory response and supportive effects on the opioidergic system, one of the body’s main pain control systems.REF#616

Learn more about the potential health benefits of Quercetin in 9 Benefits of Quercetin.

The Top 12 Best Food Sources of Quercetin

When seeking Quercetin in foods, look for deeply colored fruits, vegetables, herbs, and beverages. Quercetin is also found in some whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

In other words, if you’re eating a plant-based diet or at least getting the minimum recommendations for fruits and vegetables, you’re probably getting enough Quercetin.

Some of the best sources of Quercetin are fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including:REF#617 REF#618

#1: Capers

These tiny green flower buds are a staple in Mediterranean cooking. 

In North America, capers are primarily enjoyed in Italian dishes, like chicken piccata or rich sauces. 

However, as the #1 most concentrated food source of Quercetin in our diets (raw capers offer 234 milligrams of quercetin per 100 milligrams, and preserved capers in brine offer 173 milligrams of quercetin), capers need not be reserved for special occasions.

The salty, pickle-like taste of capers lends flavor to salads, grain bowls, dressings, and roasted vegetables.

They’re also delicious, scattered onto meats, poultry, or fish with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Cook’s tip: These nutrient-packed flower buds are typically packed in a salty brine, making them big on flavor.

Therefore, when cooking with capers, it’s best to rinse them, chop them, and use them sparingly in your dishes. 

A little goes a long way for flavor and nutrients.

#2: Red Onions

If you’ve ever felt conflicted about which variety of onions to choose, the red onion may be your best bet.

That’s because red onions are the #1 vegetable source of Quercetin.

Research has shown higher concentrations of Quercetin are found in the outermost rings and the parts closest to the root of red onions.

So, don’t peel that onion too deeply, and consider saving what you do peel and the tops and tips for stocks.

Red onions are traditionally used in salads and as toppings for sandwiches and burgers. However, they’re also delicious cooked, sauteed, braised, etc.

Cook’s tip: If you find red onions too strong when eaten raw, try this Chilean cooking trick (onions are one of the main ingredients in the classic Chilean salad, made with onions, tomatoes, salt, lemon juice, and oil).

Sprinkle onions with sea salt, squeeze fresh lemon or lime, and massage them for a minute or so. 

Let sit for about 10 minutes, and they’ll be mellow and delicious with a pickled flavor.

#3: Brassica Vegetables

Also known as cruciferous vegetables, brassicas are part of the mustard family and include:

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collard
  • Greens
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Maca
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard
  • greens)
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Broccoli or radish sprouts
  • Turnips
  • Turnip greens
  • Wasabi
  • Watercress

Brassicas are truly superfoods because they contain Quercetin, beta carotene, vitamins C and K, a wealth of minerals such as iron and selenium; soluble fiber, and other phytonutrients, like organosulfur compounds, that support various aspects of detoxification.

With so many different brassicas to choose from, the possibilities are endless. 

  • Not a fan of broccoli? Mix frozen cauliflower rice with regular rice for fried rice, taco, or grain bowls.
  • Think you hate kale? Try blending it into a smoothie or shake or turning it into a savory kale caesar salad.
  • Turned off of turnips? Try them mashed up with cooked carrots, butter or plant better, and sea salt. This simple combination may make you a fan, after all.
  • Unsure about watercress? It’s delicious blended into a simple potato soup (tip: the stems are spicy, so remove them if you prefer less punch).
  • Curious about kohlrabi? Many stores now offer pre-prepped kohlrabi noodles, or you can spiralize your own.

No matter how you prepare them, your body will thank you for eating more brassicas.

#4: Berries and Cherries

Berries are a delicious source of Quercetin, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other protective antioxidants and phytonutrients, like resveratrol.

Any type of deeply colored berry or cherry will contain Quercetin. 

So, grab your favorite and enjoy at least a handful daily.

Can’t find good berries in the fall and winter? 

Frozen berries, like wild blueberries or dark sweet cherries, are also a great source of Quercetin and are available year-round.

For more berry inspiration, check out this Very Berry Smoothie Recipe with Maca Powder and Black Elderberry Syrup.

#5: Grapes and Grape Juice

Grapes have gotten much attention as a source of Resveratrol, a powerful polyphenol antioxidant.

However, as you’ve probably guessed, they’re also a great source of Quercetin.

Which grapes are the best? 

All grapes will contain some Quercetin. However, the darker red and purple varieties typically contain more than green grapes.

When choosing grapes and grape juice, remember that conventionally-grown grapes are typically high in pesticide residues

To avoid this, look for organic grapes and grape juices as the cleanest and healthiest source of Quercetin, Resveratrol, and other nutrients.

#6: Red Wine

Like grapes and grape juice, red wine is also a tasty way to get more Quercetin, Resveratrol, and other beneficial antioxidants.

However, alcoholic beverages are not a good option for everyone, especially those who may struggle with addiction, chronic illness, those taking certain medications, children or teens, or anyone with liver disease or detoxification issues.

That said, there is evidence healthy adults may benefit from moderate consumption (like a 5-ounce glass a couple of times a week) of red wine.REF#619 REF#620

Remember, conventionally-grown wine grapes are likely heavily sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, so choose organic whenever possible.

If you’re unsure about drinking wine or do not care for wine or alcohol, grapes or grape juice provide the same Quercetin benefits.

#7: Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of Quercetin and other beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and Lycopene.

All tomatoes are healthful, but one study showed that organically-grown tomatoes offered up to 79% more Quercetin than conventionally-grown tomatoes.REF#621

So, if upping your Quercetin intake is your goal, opt for organic or home-grown tomatoes for salads, sandwiches, sauces, soups, and salsas.

#8: Shallots

Shallots, which taste like a mild onion and garlic combined, are a secret weapon for creating delicious sauces and dressings. 

They’re also great to use in place of onions when a recipe calls for a small amount of onion.

In addition to Quercetin, shallots provide vitamins, minerals, various antioxidants, and a healthy amount of immune-supportive organosulfur compounds.

Cook’s tip: Try roasted shallots for an easy, healthy, and stylish side dish. Just peel 10-15 shallots, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Or, try out this recipe for Elderberry Vinaigrette with shallots and Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup.

#9: Green and Black Tea

If you enjoy a morning cup of tea, you’re already on your way to optimizing your Quercetin intake.

Although Green and Black Teas contain Quercetin, Green Tea typically contains higher concentrations (which is why Green Tea is often included in supplements and skincare) of Quercetin because it is not fermented, like Black Tea.REF#622

Green Teas contain a wealth of antioxidants in addition to Quercetin, including epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC)REF#623, and polyphenols such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). REF#624

If you’re not big on drinking green tea, Gaia Herbs offers organic Green Tea supplements in convenient tinctures and capsules.

#10: Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a bright green, shamrock-like leaf best known for its potential benefits for brain and cognitive function.* 

Part of its actions could be due to plant compounds like Quercetin, which have been shown to support normal inflammation and circulation.REF#625 REF#626

Ginkgo is traditionally taken as a supplement, tea, or herbal tincture.

Gaia Herbs offers several formulas containing Ginkgo Biloba, including:

#11: St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is another bright green herb shown to contain Quercetin.

It’s demonstrated potential benefits for supporting:

  • Immunity,REF#627 REF#628
  • A healthy menopause,REF#629
  • Energy levels,REF#630
  • And mood.REF#631

However, St. John’s Wort can interact with certain medications, including birth control pills. 

Always discuss taking St. John’s Wort or any herb with your doctor before use.

St. John’s Wort can be found as a tincture, powder, or capsule form supplement. 

Gaia Herbs offers certified organic St. John’s Wort in:

#12: Elderberry

With their deep purple color and a laundry list of health benefits* and nutrients, it’s no wonder Elderberries contain Quercetin.

Thanks to their boom in popularity, Elderberry products are easy to find and affordable. You can even buy Elderberries in bulk and maketinctures and syrups.

Some of Gaia Herbs' best-selling products include elderberries, such as:

      What About Quercetin Supplements?

      Eating a healthy and diverse diet should always be your top priority regarding getting enough nutrients.

      However, if you’re interested in taking a Quercetin supplement in addition to healthy eating, we recommend following this criterion in your selection:

      • Look for a brand that does third-party testing for identity, purity, and contaminants.
      • Avoid supplements that contain artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, fillers, or excipients (such as magnesium stearate or talc).
      • If you’re considering an herbal formula with Quercetin, look for certified organic herbs to avoid pesticide residues.

      Gaia Herbs offers several supplements containing Quercetin and other beneficial herbs, including:

      To learn more about Quercetin, check out: Discover 9 Benefits of Quercetin for Immunity, Exercise Performance, Gut Health & More.


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