A new study concludes that increasing the consumption of flavonoids, a group of molecules found naturally in fruits and vegetables, could protect people from stress-induced cardiovascular events such as bleeding, heart disease and thrombosis.
Researchers found that blood vessels are able to function better during stress when people drink cocoa with high levels of flavonoids compared to when they drank a beverage not rich in this substance.
The endothelium, a thin layer of cells that lines the heart and blood vessels, helps reduce the risk of peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, tumor growth, thrombosis, and serious viral infectious diseases. Scientists know that stress can have a negative effect on blood vessel function.
Thus, a research team at the University of Birmingham, UK, examined the effects of cocoa flavonoids on stress-induced changes in vascular function. The results of the Nutrients investigation have already been published.
“We found that drinking cocoa rich in flavonoids could be an effective nutritional strategy for reducing the temporary decrease in endothelial function after mental stress and improving blood flow during stress episodes,” explains Katarina Rendero, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sports and Exercise Science and Rehabilitation and lead author of the study.
According to the scientist, flavonoids are very common in a variety of fruits and vegetables. “In order to use the known cardiovascular benefits of these compounds during periods of acute vascular weakness (such as stress), we can provide improved guidelines to people on how to get the most out of their diet choice in times of stress.”
In a randomized study, conducted by PhD student Rosalind Paynham, a group of healthy men received a cocoa beverage rich in flavonoids 90 minutes before completing an eight-minute mental stress task.
The researchers measured blood flow from the forearm and cardiovascular activity at rest and during stress and evaluated vascular performance up to 90 minutes after the strain. They found that vascular function was less impaired when participants drank cocoa, which was high in flavonoids. The researchers also found that flavonoids improved blood flow during stress.
Stress is hugely prevalent in our society and has been associated with both physical and psychological health. Mental stress leads to an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure (BP) in healthy adults and also leads to temporary impairment of arterial function, even after the seizure has stopped.
“Our findings are important for the diet, as the daily intake can be achieved by eating a variety of foods rich in flavonoids – especially apples, black grapes, berries, cherries, berries, pears, legumes, green tea and unprocessed cocoa.” Researcher Katharina Rendero concluded that this It has important implications for vascular protective measures for individuals most vulnerable to the effects of psychological stress.
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