What are flavanols and how can they help lower blood pressure

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A British study found that a diet rich in flavanols promotes a decrease in blood pressure. Where to find them.

Diet is one of the modifiable factors that can have an impact on reducing high blood pressure (in addition to not smoking, exercising, reducing stress, among others). As for diet, reducing sodium (added and hidden salt) is the main recommendation, but not the only one. Choosing healthy foods is essential, and now a British study found that a diet rich in flavanols may have benefits.

An international team from the University of Reading, the University of Cambridge, the University of California at Davis, and Mars Incorporated studied 25,618 participants from the Norfolk European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study and found that the greatest difference was seen in participants with higher blood pressure. This suggests that if the general public increased their intake of flavanol, there could be an overall reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols are a popular group of flavonoids (natural antioxidants), which include catechins and procyanidins. People who eat a diet that includes foods and drinks rich in flavanols such as tea, cocoa, apples, grapes and red berries, could lower blood pressure, according to the first study using objective measures of the diets of thousands of UK residents. Red wine also has a high concentration of flavanols.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, studied the diet of more than 25,000 participants in Norfolk, UK and compared what they ate to their blood pressure. Unlike most other studies investigating the links between nutrition and health, the researchers did not rely on what study participants reported about their diet, but instead measured flavanol intake objectively using nutritional biomarkers: indicators of dietary intake, metabolism or nutritional status that are present in our blood.

The difference in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10% flavanol intake and those with the highest 10% was between 2 and 4 mmHg. This is comparable to the significant changes in blood pressure seen in those following a Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. In particular, the effect was more pronounced in participants with hypertension (in Argentina, it is considered from 140/90 mmHg, that is, 14/9).

“Previous studies of large populations 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, in which a significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure, “said Professor Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritionist at the University of Reading who led the study.

“What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols, found in tea and some fruits, and blood pressure. This research confirms the results of previous dietary intervention studies and shows that it can be achieved. the same results with a regular 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 studies ever conducted on the use of nutritional biomarkers to investigate bioactive compounds. The use of nutritional biomarkers to estimate the intake of bioactive food compounds has long been considered As the gold standard for research, since it allows to measure the intake objectively. The development, validation and application of the biomarker was only possible thanks to the long-term commitment of all collaborators. Unlike self-reported dietary data, nutritional biomarkers can address the huge variability in food composition. Therefore, we can confidently attribute the associations we observed to flavanol intake, “he noted.

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