Population Study Links Polyphenol Intake to Cardiovascular Risk

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Diets rich in polyphenols were linked to reduced prevalence of hypertension up to 36%.

Dietary intake of polyphenols may reduce risk of hypertension in elderly subjects, according to new research published in the May 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases.

Researchers from several Spanish universities assigned 589 subjects to a food frequency questionnaire for 136 food items. Subjects were over 55 years old, mostly overweight, and related to various cardiovascular risk factors (33% diabetics, 81% hypertensive, 16% active smokers, etc.).

Total urinary excretion of phenols was measured as an indicator of total polyphenol intake and blood pressure. Polyphenols were categorized into one of three groups: fruits and vegetables, coffee, or wine.

One hundred grams of fruits and vegetables was found to provide more polyphenols than 100 mL of coffee or 100 mL of wine. A significant positive association was observed between total excreted polyphenols and intake of these food groups.

Researchers found that higher urinary counts of polyphenols were associated with greatly reduced cardiovascular risks. Subjects in the highest quartile of total urinary polyphenols actually showed a 36% reduced risk of hypertension, compared to the lowest quartile.

The researchers concluded that “a high intake of polyphenol-rich diet may help to decrease blood pressure in elderly hypertensive populations in order to lower their cardiovascular risk. However, the observation that systolic and diastolic BP decrease when TPE increases needs to be confirmed in further intervention studies. A longer follow-up of the [trial] will eventually provide the evidence to confirm our results.”

Funding for the study was provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovatio and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III.