In contrast to most other studies investigating links between nutrition and health, the researchers measured flavanol intake objectively using nutritional biomarkers — indicators of dietary intake, metabolism or nutritional status present in our blood.
The difference in blood pressure between those with the lowest 10 per cent and the highest 10 per cent of flavonol intake was between two and four millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
This is comparable to meaningful changes in blood pressure observed in those following a Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The effect was more pronounced in participants with hypertension.
Previous studies in large populations have always relied on self-reported data to draw conclusions but this is the first study to objectively investigate the association between a specific bioactive compound and health.
“We are delighted to see that in our study, there was also a meaningful and significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure,” said study author Gunter Kuhnle from the University of Reading, US.
“What this study gives us is an objective finding of the association between flavanols — found in tea and some fruits — and blood pressure,” Kuhnle added.
The research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that similar results could be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols. In British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries.
The study found that the biggest difference was observed in participants with the highest blood pressure.
It suggests if the general public increased its flavanol intake, there could be an overall reduction in cardiovascular disease incidence.
“This study adds key insights into a growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of dietary flavanols in health and nutrition,” the authors wrote.
Inputs from ANI