Beneficial effect of a polyphenol-rich diet on cardiovascular risk: a randomised control trial

Rebecca L Noad, Ciara Rooney, Damian McCall, Ian S Young, David McCance, Michelle C McKinley, Jayne V Woodside, Pascal P McKeown

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OBJECTIVES: There is previous epidemiological evidence that intake of polyphenol-rich foods has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk. We aimed to investigate the effect of increasing dietary polyphenol intake on microvascular function in hypertensive participants.

METHODS: All participants completed a 4-week run-in phase, consuming <2 portions of fruit and vegetables (F&V) daily and avoiding berries and dark chocolate. Subjects were then randomised to continue with the low-polyphenol diet for 8 weeks or to consume a high-polyphenol diet of six portions F&V (including one portion of berries/day and 50 g of dark chocolate). Endothelium-dependent (acetylcholine, ACh) and endothelium-independent (sodium nitroprusside) vasodilator responses were assessed by venous occlusion plethysmography. Compliance with the intervention was measured using food diaries and biochemical markers.

RESULTS: Final analysis of the primary endpoint was conducted on 92 participants. Between-group comparison of change in maximum % response to ACh revealed a significant improvement in the high-polyphenol group (p=0.02). There was a significantly larger increase in vitamin C, carotenoids and epicatechin in the high-polyphenol group (between-group difference p<0.001; p<0.001; p=0.008, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown that increasing the polyphenol content of the diet via consumption of F&V, berries and dark chocolate results in a significant improvement in an established marker of cardiovascular risk in hypertensive participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1371
Number of pages10
JournalHeart (British Cardiac Society)
Early online date10 May 2016
Publication statusEarly online date - 10 May 2016


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