Background: Although a high intake of some flavonoid subclasses may reduce cardiovascular disease mortality, data regarding the in vivo mechanisms of action are limited.
Objective: We examined associations between habitual flavonoid intakes and direct measures of arterial stiffness, central blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
Design: In a cross-sectional study of 1898 women aged 18-75 y from the TwinsUK registry, intakes of total flavonoids and their subclasses (flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, polymers, flavonols, and flavones) were calculated from validated food-frequency questionnaires by using an updated and extended USDA database. Direct measures of arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis included central systolic blood pressure (cSBP), central diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure (MAP), augmentation index, pulse wave velocity (PWV), and intima-media thickness.
Results: In multivariate analyses, a higher anthocyanin intake was associated with significantly lower cSBP (mean ± SE: -3.0 ± 1.4 mm Hg for quintile 5 compared with quintile 1; P-trend = 0.02), MAP (-2.3 ± 1.2 mm Hg for quintile 5 compared with quintile 1; P-trend = 0.04), and PWV (-0.4 ± 0.2 m/s for quintile 5 compared with quintile 1; P-trend = 0.04), whereas a higher flavone intake was associated with a lower PWV (-0.4 ± 0.2 m/s for quintile 5 compared with quintile 1; P-trend = 0.04). Although a higher wine and berry intake was associated with a lower PWV, no associations were observed for total and other flavonoid subclasses.
Conclusions: These data, which include direct measures of arterial stiffness and thickness, suggest that higher intake of anthocyanins and flavones are inversely associated with lower arterial stiffness. The intakes of anthocyanins associated with these findings could be incorporated into the diet by the consumption of 1-2 portions of berries daily and are, therefore, relevant for public health strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.