This type of food may help control blood pressure

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In a new study from Queen’s University, researchers found flavonoid-rich foods, including berries, apples, pears and wine, appear to have a positive effect on blood pressure levels.

This is partially explained by the characteristics of the gut microbiome. The researchers found gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their cardioprotective effects.

The findings suggest these blood-pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet.

Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods such as tea, chocolate and wine, and have been shown in previous research to offer a variety of health benefits to the body.

Flavonoids are broken down by the body’s gut microbiome—the bacteria found in the digestive tract.

Recent studies found a link between gut microbiota, the microorganisms in the human digestive tract, and heart disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.

In the study, the team examined the link between eating flavonoid-rich foods with blood pressure and gut microbiome diversity.

They also examined how much variance within the gut microbiome could explain the association between intake of flavonoid-rich foods and blood pressure.

A group of 904 adults between the ages of 25 and 82 was recruited for this study.

The team found people who had the highest intake of flavonoid-rich foods, including berries, red wine, apples and pears, had lower systolic blood pressure levels, as well as greater diversity in their gut microbiome than the participants who consumed the lowest levels of flavonoid-rich foods.

Up to 15.2% of the association between flavonoid-rich foods and systolic blood pressure could be explained by the diversity found in participants’ gut microbiome.

Eating 1.6 servings of berries per day (one serving equals 80 grams, or 1 cup) was linked to an average reduction in systolic blood pressure levels of 4.1 mm Hg, and about 12% of the association was explained by gut microbiome.

Drinking 2.8 glasses (125 ml of wine per glass) of red wine a week was linked to an average of 3.7 mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure level, of which 15% could be explained by the gut microbiome.

While this study suggests potential benefits to consuming red wine, the American Heart Association suggests that if you don’t drink alcohol already, you shouldn’t start.

If you do drink, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.

If you care about blood pressure health, please read studies about blood pressure drops 14 years before death and findings of bottom blood pressure number may predict your dementia risk.

For more information about high blood pressure and your health, please see recent studies about this common blood pressure drug may increase your gut disease risk and results showing that scientists give new advice for treating high blood pressure.

The study is published in Hypertension. One author of the study is Aedín Cassidy, Ph.D.

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