It's no secret that fruits like berries and apples are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, but a new study conducted in the United Kingdom found that those fruits also have high levels of flavanols. As it turns out, those flavanols are also positively contributing to your health. "Tea, apples, berries, nuts, and many other plant-based foods contain flavanols, (and) these are bioactive food components well known to be associated with lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease as shown in this large and very well-conducted study," Ada Garcia, a senior lecturer in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Glasgow, told the Science Media Centre.
So, what are flavanols? They're naturally occurring compounds that are most often found in red wine and chocolate, as well as healthier foods like apples, berries, and tea. The U.K. diet is particularly high in these foods. Researchers studied the diets of more than 25,000 individuals, but said that an even larger-scale study will be needed to fully understand the relationship between a high intake of flavanols and changes in blood pressure. The researchers found that the difference in blood pressure between the people with the lowest 10 percent of flavanol intake and those with the highest 10 percent of intake was between two and four mmHg.
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Previous studies used participants' own reported diets to understand the relationship between flavanols, blood pressure, and weight loss, but this particular study was the first to use biomarkers found in urine to measure the intake of the compounds. "Its importance lies in the use of objective quantifiable biomarkers of flavanoid intake, as opposed to estimates based on what are necessarily imprecise measures of food intake and composition," said Ian Johnson, a nutrition researcher and emeritus fellow at the Quadram Institute Bioscience.
"This is an important, high-quality investigation of some physiological effects of dietary flavanoids in a large U.K. population," said Johnson.