Flavonoids and arterial stiffness: promising perspectives

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Jul;24(7):698-704. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2014.01.015. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Background and aims: Flavonoids are a group of polyphenol compounds, ubiquitously found in plants. Great emphasis has been given to their possible benefits for cardiovascular health. These beneficial effects may be mediated by a specific action on arterial walls. Arterial stiffness is a marker of vascular aging, increasingly used in the clinical setting and assessed by pulse wave velocity. It has shown to be a robust predictor of cardiovascular events and mortality. This review aims at providing a comprehensive evaluation of available intervention and observational studies examining the relationship between flavonoid consumption and arterial stiffness.

Data synthesis: A Medline(®) literature search was performed using the keywords "arterial stiffness" and "flavonoids". As a result, 2 cross-sectional and 16 intervention studies assessing the relationship between flavonoids intake and arterial stiffness were retained. Four intervention trials reported a significant decrease of arterial stiffness after a flavonoid-based intervention, independently from blood pressure changes. The two observational studies reported significant associations between a higher flavonoid consumption and a lower arterial stiffness. In this review, isoflavones, anthocyanins and to a lesser extent cocoa flavan-3-ols appeared to be the more efficient to improve vascular function.

Conclusions: Despite their heterogeneity, preliminary data seem to support an improvement of the arterial stiffness related to flavonoid intake. However, further research on absorption and dose-response effects of the specific flavonoid subclasses on arterial structure is warranted.

Keywords: Arterial stiffness; Cardiovascular diseases; Flavonoids; Wave reflection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aorta / drug effects
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Cacao / chemistry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness / drug effects*


  • Flavonoids