Diets High in Flavanol may lead to lower blood pressure
According to a recent study, a flavanol-rich diet may lower blood pressure, indicating its ability to support the maintenance of cardiovascular (CVD) health on a population scale. People who consume a diet including flavanol-rich foods and drinks, including tea, apples, and berries, could lead to lower blood pressure.
“The researchers noted this finding suggests that an increase in flavanol intake among the general public could result in an overall reduction in CVD disease incidence.”
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, studied the diet of more than 25,000 people in Norfolk, UK, and compared what they ate with their blood pressure. A diet rich in flavan-3-ols, more commonly referred to as flavanols, includes food and beverages such as tea, apples, and berries. The difference in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10% of flavonol intake and those with the highest 10% of intake was between 2 and 4 mmHg. This is comparable to meaningful changes in blood pressure observed in those following a Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Notably, the effect was more pronounced in participants with hypertension. Flavanols are a group of bioactive compounds that have demonstrated an ability to help vascular function in prior intervention studies. For this reason, the researchers were interested in investigating flavanols as dietary support in the prevention of CVD diseases due to a lack of reliable data from observational studies on the subject.
Professor Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritionist at the University of Reading who led the study said:
“Previous studies of large populations have always relied on self-reported data to draw conclusions, but this is the first epidemiological study of this scale to objectively investigate the association between a specific bioactive compound and health. We are delighted to see that in our study, there was also a meaningful and significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure.
“What this study gives us is an objective finding of the association between flavanols – found in tea and some fruits — and blood pressure. This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols. In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples, and berries.
“The methodology of the study is of equal importance. This is one of the largest ever studies to use nutritional biomarkers to investigate bioactive compounds. Using nutritional biomarkers to estimate intake of bioactive food compounds has long been seen as the gold standard for research, as it allows the intake to be measured objectively. The development, validation, and application of the biomarker was only possible because of the long-term commitment of all collaborators. In contrast to self-reported dietary data, nutritional biomarkers can address the huge variability in food composition. We can therefore confidently attribute the associations we observed to flavanol intake.”
An international team from the University of Reading, Cambridge University, the University of California Davis, and Mars, Incorporated studied 25,618 participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk study and found that the biggest difference was observed in participants with the highest blood pressure. This suggests if the general public increased its flavanol intake, there could be an overall reduction in cardiovascular disease incidence.
The researchers noted this finding suggests that an increase in flavanol intake among the general public could result in an overall reduction in CVD disease incidence. Hagen Schroeter, Chief Science Officer at Mars Edge, said:
The study is one of the largest to ever use nutritional biomarkers to investigate bioactive compounds, which the investigators said has long been considered the gold standard for research because it allows the intake to be measured objectively. “This study adds key insights into a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of dietary flavanols in health and nutrition. But, perhaps even more exciting was the opportunity to apply objective biomarkers of flavanol intake at a large scale. This enabled the team to avoid the significant limitations that come with past approaches that rely on estimating intake based on self-reported food consumption data and the shortcomings of current food composition databases.” Unlike self-reported dietary data, nutritional biomarkers can address variability in food composition, leading to more reliable attribution of the associations observed by the researchers.