Hypertension: bet on a diet rich in flavanols to lower blood pressure

Presse Santé

Consuming foods rich in flavanol, such as tea and cocoa, can help lower blood pressure, even in people with hypertension.

Eating large amounts of foods containing flavanols, antioxidants found in some fruits, vegetables, tea and cocoa, can benefit your blood pressure, according to research published in October 2020 in scientific reports.

The researchers looked at blood pressure and cardiovascular disease data, as well as urine test results, and looked for biomarkers of flavan-3-ol, a substance that indicates the amount of flavanol in the diet, in more than 25,000 adults in the UK.

Systolic blood pressure, the “highest number” that indicates the blood pressure to the walls of the arteries when the heart beats, was about 1.9 millimeters of mercury (mmHG) lower in men and about 2.5 mmHG in women with the highest flavan-3 intake. -ol compared to their lowest-income flavan-3-ol counterparts. The study also found that differences in blood pressure associated with a high flavanone diet were more pronounced in older adults and people diagnosed with hypertension than in younger individuals and people with normal blood pressure.

This study shows for the first time that flavanols consumed as part of a normal diet are associated with lower blood pressure.

Advantages and disadvantages of this study model

One of the benefits of this study is that she used urine tests to estimate how many flavoners people had in their diet. Many other studies that look at the health benefits of different eating habits instead rely on food diaries or surveys that do not always provide an accurate picture of how people actually eat. In these cases, people often report healthier eating habits than they actually have.

Another advantage of using biomarkers instead of the self-reported dietary information is that the amount of flavanols in a particular food or beverage can vary. For example, 100 grams (g) of tea may contain between 10 and 330 milligrams (mg) of flavanols.

The main limitation of the study is that the results of this study conducted in the United Kingdom – where tea is the main source of dietary flavanols – may not reflect what would happen in another population where people focus on different foods and beverages.

Another limitation is that the researchers only studied urine tests for consuming flavanols at one time, and it is possible that eating habits have changed over time. Researchers say a method that could affect blood pressure or the risk of cardiovascular disease.

What other studies say about flavanols, diet and blood pressure

Previous studies have found that flavanols can help reduce arterial stiffness, cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a review published in June 2018 in Molecular Aspects of Medicine. In particular, this review demonstrated a link between the flavanols present in cocoa and tea and these heart health benefits. The reduction in blood pressure observed with flavanols in the current study is comparable to what some previous studies have found in two healthy heart diets, the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, nuts, olive oil and other healthy fats. It also recommends moderate consumption of dairy products and restrictions on red and processed meat. The DASH diet takes these ideas further, recommends the number of servings per week for different foods and limits sodium intake.

A 2013 study published in BMC Medicine found that following a Mediterranean diet, diastolic blood pressure, a “lower number” that decreases the pressure that blood exerts on the walls of arteries as the heart pumps, decreases. resting between strokes, 1.5 mmHg. However, this study did not show an association between the Mediterranean diet and systolic blood pressure.

An older study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when people tried to reduce sodium intake to the lowest possible level, the DASH diet lowered systolic blood pressure more than other types of diets. diet, 11.5 mmHg more for people with hypertension and 7.1 mmHg more for people without hypertension. When people tried to reduce sodium intake from high to medium levels, the DASH diet reduced systolic blood pressure by 2.1 mmHg.

A permanent reduction in blood pressure of 2 mmHg would be of great benefit at the population level. So, from a public health point of view, this is a significant number.

Which flavanol-rich foods are best for lowering blood pressure?

Flavanols are part of a large group of compounds found in plants such as fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals and nuts. In foods, these compounds provide many health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. They act as strong antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances.

To take advantage of flavanols from sources such as cocoa and tea, it is best to consume raw forms without much added sugar, cream and other ingredients, Heller advises. This is especially true for cocoa and chocolate. People who want to lower their blood pressure through diet should consider increasing their flavan intake as part of a healthy diet.


Biomarker-estimated flavan-3-ol intake is associated with lower blood pressure in a cross-sectional analysis at EPIC Norfolk

Recommendations of flavanols and procyanidins for cardiovascular health: Visited again

The effect of the Mediterranean diet on blood pressure in the PREDIMED study: results from a randomized controlled trial

Effects of Reduced Dietary Sodium on Blood Pressure and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet

* Presse Santé strives to impart health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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