- Flavonoids found in plants and plant foods such as berries, apples, tea, wine and dark chocolate are known to offer health benefits, including some protective effects on the cardiovascular system.
- A study of over 900 adults in Germany evaluated the quantity and frequency of eating flavonoid-rich foods and measured bacteria in the gut microbiome to determine if there was an association with blood pressure levels.
- Researchers determined the participants who consumed higher levels of berries, apples, pears and wine had lower systolic blood pressure levels, which was explained in part by bacteria in their gut microbiome.
Flavonoid-rich foods, including berries, apples, pears and wine, appear to have a positive effect on blood pressure levels, an association that is partially explained by characteristics of the gut microbiome, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.
“Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet,” said lead investigator of the study Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., chair and professor in nutrition and preventive medicine at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods such as tea, chocolate and wine, and have been shown in previous research to offer a variety of health benefits to the body. Flavonoids are broken down by the body’s gut microbiome—the bacteria found in the digestive tract. Recent studies found a link between gut microbiota, the microorganisms in the human digestive tract, and cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the leading cause of death worldwide. Gut microbiota is highly variable between individuals, and there are reported differences in gut microbial compositions among people with and without CVD.