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Gut bacteria and flavonoid-rich foods are linked and improve blood pressure levels

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Gut bacteria and flavonoid-rich foods are linked and improve blood pressure levels

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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.

Published: August 23, 2021

Source: American Heart Association

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.

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.                      

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.

With increased research suggesting flavonoids may reduce heart disease risk, this study assessed the role of the gut microbiome on the process, finding that:

  • Study participants who had the highest intake of flavonoid-rich foods, including berries, red wine, apples and pears, had lower systolic blood pressure levels, as well as greater diversity in their gut microbiome than the participants who consumed the lowest levels of flavonoid-rich foods.
  • Up to 15.2% of the association between flavonoid-rich foods and systolic blood pressure could be explained by the diversity found in participants' gut microbiome.
  • Eating 1.6 servings of berries per day (one serving equals 80 grams, or 1 cup) was associated with an average reduction in systolic blood pressure levels of 4.1 mm Hg, and about 12% of the association was explained by gut microbiome factors.

 

Story Source and Journal References:

Materials provided by American Heart Association. Content may be edited for style and length.

  1. Amy Jennings, Manja Koch, Corinna Bang, Andre Franke, Wolfgang Lieb, Aedín Cassidy. Microbial Diversity and Abundance of Parabacteroides Mediate the Associations Between Higher Intake of Flavonoid-Rich Foods and Lower Blood Pressure. Hypertension, 2021; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.121.17441

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