Association of heart rate and blood pressure among European adolescents with usual food consumption: The HELENA study

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Jun;26(6):541-8. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2016.01.014. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


Background and aim: In adults, there is some evidence that improving diet reduces blood pressure (BP) and the subsequent risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). However, studies that analyse this association in adolescents are still scarce. The objective of the present study was to examine the associations between heart rate, systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP) and mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) among European adolescents and usual intake of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, fish, high-sugar foods and savoury snacks.

Methods and results: In total, 2283 adolescents from the HELENA-study (12.5-17.5 years old; 1253 girls) were included. Dietary intake was assessed using two computerized 24-hour dietary recalls. Age, sex, body mass index, maternal educational level, physical activity and Tanner stage were considered as confounders. Associations were examined by mixed model analysis stratified by sex. Tests for trend were assessed by tertiles of intake while controlling for the aforementioned confounders. Dairy products and fish intake were negatively associated with BP and heart rate. Significant decreasing trends were observed for heart rate and BP across tertiles of dairy products, fish intake and high-sugar foods intake (p < 0.05). Significant increasing trends were observed for SBP and MAP across tertiles of savoury snack intake (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Significant but small inverse associations between fish and dairy products consumption with blood pressure and heart rate have been found in European adolescents. Dietary intervention studies are needed to explore these associations in the context of the modification of several risk factors for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: Dairy products; Diet; Fish intake; Systolic blood pressure.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet Records
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Nutritional Status
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood
  • Snacks
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Sucrose