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New Research on Flavonoids and Heart Health (NewsBite)

Posted Aug 26 2008 11:39am

Food Insight NewsBite

Prospective studies have recently been published showing possible benefits of flavonoids for the reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids, which are found mainly in fruits, vegetables , and other plant foods, have long been touted for their health benefits. More than 5,000 individual flavonoids have been identified in plants, and several hundreds are known to occur in frequently consumed foods. Flavonoids, which are antioxidants, may reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is thought to be involved in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). According to the American Heart Association, more than 64 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of death in the country.

A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses the Iowa Women’s Health Study (IWHS), which followed postmenopausal women aged 55-69 years old who were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Participants were sent a food-frequency questionnaire and other questions relevant to the risk of CVD and stroke. Researchers used flavonoid food composition data from three US Department of Agriculture databases to develop estimates of dietary flavonoid intake in the participant’s diets and to evaluate the connection between flavonoid intake and CVD mortality.

The IWHS study had 16 years of follow-up and is the first study that has reported on dietary intake of total flavonoids and on seven subclasses of flavonoids. The study found that dietary intakes of flavanones and anthocyanidins were associated with a decreased risk of death due to CVD. However, these results alone cannot be considered conclusive because of limitations of the observational study design and of the dietary intake information collected. Researchers suggest more studies on potential cardioprotective effects of the intakes of flavanones and anthocyanidins should be replicated with more comprehensive information about the dietary intake sources of flavonoids.

Another article on this subject in The Journal of Nutrition provides an overview of current research on flavonoids as presented during an International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) North America workshop “Flavonoids and Heart Health,” in Washington, DC. The data presented at the workshop supported the concept that flavonoids in the diet can be associated with significant health benefits, including heart health. Again, more research was recommended to help advance the science surrounding flavonoids and heart health.

These articles, “Flavonoid Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: A Prospective Study in Postmenopausal Women” and “Flavonoids and Health: Proceedings of the ILSI North America Flavonoids Workshop, May 31-June 1, 2005, Washington, DC” can be purchased on the American Society for Nutrition Web site at .

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