“Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects,” says Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D., study director and professor of nutrition and preventive medicine at Queen’s University’s Institute for Global Food Security in Belfast. And this latest study is proof that healthy blood pressure can be positively influenced by making small, achievable changes in our daily diet.
As already mentioned, flavonoids occur naturally in plant-based foods, but especially in berries, apples, pears, tea, chocolate and wine. For this study, researchers looked at the food intake, gut microbiome, and blood pressure of a group of just over 900 participants, ages 25 to 82 – and also considered other clinical and molecular phenotyping.
They found that participants with the highest flavonoid intake – as measured by their intake of foods like berries, red wine, apples, and pears – had lower (healthier) systolic blood pressure and a more diverse gut microbiome than those who did not consume as many flavonoid-rich foods. Researchers attribute at least 15% of the association between flavonoids and blood pressure to gut microbiome health, particularly the diversity of bacteria found.
“Our results suggest that future studies should screen participants by their metabolic profile to examine the role of metabolism and the gut microbiome in regulating the effects of flavonoids on blood pressure,” suggested Cassidy.