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How flavonoids can lower blood pressure

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Dark chocolate, strawberries, apples, pears and berries such as blackberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants called flavonoidsrecognized by science as beneficial for the body from various points of view.

Until now it was known that they helped reduce the chances of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer and to fight high blood pressure, but a new study suggests that the composition of the intestinal microbiota, i.e. the community of microorganisms that live in the intestine, plays a decisive role in the association between flavonoids and blood pressure.

This finding could also help explain why flavonoids have such variable cardiovascular benefits from person to person.

Karkadè is also particularly rich in flavonoids.

Dark chocolate also has a large quantity of it and for this reason eating it regularly generates various benefits.

What the study says

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseasewhich are among the main causes of death.

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland recently conducted a study, later published in the journal Hypertension, whose conclusions were that individuals who consumed foods rich in flavonoids tend to have lower blood pressure, and that the diversity of each individual's intestinal microbiota represents a very important variant to determine the specific effect of these antioxidants.

“Eat 1.6 servings of berries per dayequal to 1 cup or 80 grams, led to clinically relevant reductions in systolic blood pressurewhich is the pressure in a person's arteries when the heart contracts, which differs from diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure when the heart relaxes,” said lead author Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., president and professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University.

In particular, the scientists' analysis found that a this amount is associated with an average reduction of 4.1 millimeters of mercury in systolic blood pressure. The diversity and composition of the intestinal microbiota would account for approximately 11.6% of the association between berry consumption and blood pressure.

Likewise, drink 2.8 glasses of red wine per week (125 milliliters per glass) was associated with a reduction of 3.7 mm Hg of systolic blood pressure. In this case the intestinal microbiota represented 15.2% of this association. However, doubts still remain regarding the positivity of this data, given that excessive alcohol consumption appears to be linked to a greater probability of developing cardiovascular diseases.

The role of flavonoids

In particular, a class of flavonoids called anthocyanins appears to be key to this effect. These molecules are responsible for the red or blue color of many fruitsincluding red grapes, blueberries, blackcurrants and blackberries.

However, their benefits are not identical in all people, which is why Prof. Cassidy, a consultant to the Highbush Blueberry Council of the United States, says that “a better understanding of the highly individual variability of flavonoid metabolism may well explain why some people have greater cardiovascular protective benefits from flavonoid-rich foods than others.”

The details of the research

For their study, the researchers have analyzed data from 904 adults aged 25 to 82all part of a German medical database called PopGen biobank.

The team has assessed participants' flavonoid intake compared to the previous year using a food questionnaire that included the consumption of 112 different foods.

To measure the diversity and composition of the participants' gut microbiota, the scientists used a standard technique that involves the sequencing of the genetic material of bacteria in stool sampleswhile to obtain a uniform and reliable measurement of the blood pressureasked the volunteers to fast overnight, and then carry out on them, the following morning, three consecutive blood pressure measurements at 3-minute intervals.

The average of the second and third measurements was used to draw the final conclusions and were insert evaluations of other factors that could influence blood pressure such as gender, age, smoking habits, medication use, physical activity and family history of coronary heart disease.

Other benefits of flavonoids

During the research it also emerged that participants who consumed more flavonoids tended to have a greater diversity of bacteria in their intestines compared to those who had consumed less, a lower abundance of a genus of bacteria known as Parabacteroides and a greater abundance of species in the Ruminococcaceae family of bacteria.

The beneficial properties of fresh berries and strawberries, blackberries and blueberries also remain in their frozen version, which is easier to find out of season. Furthermore, Prof. Cassidy did not rule out that prebiotic or probiotic foods could soon be created that help reduce blood pressure by promoting the breakdown of flavonoids by intestinal bacteria.

“At the moment, this area of ​​research is in its infancy, but the potential to design pre- or probiotics to improve flavonoid metabolism is already there.”

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