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.
Trial registration number NCT01319786.
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