Phytonutrient flavanol present in tea, apples lowers blood pressure, claims study
Flavonoids are rich in antioxidants, thus they help fight free radicals in the body, which can otherwise damage the organs.
A large part of the Indian population like to begin their day with a cup of tea. Little do they know that this early morning beverage can provide them with a number of health benefits as it is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) which are found in a number of fruits, vegetables and beverages.
Flavonoids are rich in antioxidants, thus they help fight free radicals in the body, which can otherwise damage the organs. Studies have also shown that they can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke. There are some smaller subgroups of flavonoids such as flavones, anthocyanins, flavanones, isoflavones, flavonols and flavanols (flavan-3-ols).
Among these, flavanol is a popular type of flavonoid; it includes both catechins and procyanidins and is found in high concentrations in tea, cocoa, grapes and red wine. A recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports on 21st October 2020, stated that a flavanol-rich diet can help in lowering blood pressure.
Studying the effect of flavanols on the blood pressure
For this study, scientists collected the data of 25,618 participants, of which 14,026 were women and 11,592 were men. These participants were already enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Norfolk study.
All of these patients had a habit of adding flavanols in their diet in the form of beverages, fruits and vegetables.
The scientists also gathered data about smoking habits and social class as well as the medical history of the family. They measured the height, weight, physical activity and blood pressure of the participants. Blood pressure was taken after making the patient sit comfortably for five minutes. The doctors also took into account the non-fasting blood levels, total cholesterol levels and plasma levels of the patients.
Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
The results of the study showed that consumption of flavanols can have a vasculoprotective (protection from the damage to blood vessels) effect. It was found that people who consumed high levels of flavan-3-ol presented with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. High flavanol levels were also associated with reduced levels of bad cholesterol, triglycerides and overall cholesterol in the body.
The results further showed that the difference in blood pressure between those who consumed the lowest levels of flavanol and the ones who took the highest levels of flavanol was between 2 and 4 millimetres of mercury (mmHg). The difference in blood pressure was more significant in people who were diagnosed with hypertension.
The scientists concluded that regular consumption of flavanol (in any form) can help in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
For more information, read our article on Antioxidants.
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