Eating specific foods, like leafy greens and walnuts, can be beneficial for your heart health, but they're not the only items to add to your shopping list. According to a new study published in Hypertension, flavonoid-filled foods and drinks, such as red wine and berries, are worth consuming as they can improve your blood pressure. "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," Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., the lead investigator from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, said in a media release.
Flavonoids are known to hold plenty of health benefits, namely by helping the gut microbiome (the the bacteria in our digestive systems). These are actually found in many popular foods and drinks, like fruits, vegetables, tea, chocolate, and wine. Other news has found that healthy gut microbiota could lessen risks of cardiovascular disease. The latest research on flavonoids digs into how eating these types of foods ties in with blood pressure levels and the diversity of gut microbiome.
The research team studied 904 adults between 25 and 82 years of age, which included the food they ate, their gut microbiome, and blood pressure. They looked into their flavonoid food intake through the use of questionnaires, gathered fecal bacterial DNA samples, and measured their blood pressure three different times in three-minute increments after the fasted overnight. The scientists also examined their sex, age, smoking status, medication use, and physical activity and would factor in the history of heart disease in their families, their average calorie and fiber intake, height, and weight wherever applicable. They found that those who consumed the most flavonoid-rich drinks and foods three times a week lowered their levels of systolic blood pressure and boosted their gut microbiome diversity more than those who did not.
"Our findings indicate future trials should look at participants according to metabolic profile in order to more accurately study the roles of metabolism and the gut microbiome in regulating the effects of flavonoids on blood pressure," Cassidy said. "A better understanding of the highly individual variability of flavonoid metabolism could very well explain why some people have greater cardiovascular protection benefits from flavonoid-rich foods than others."
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