Several epidemiological studies have linked flavonols with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, some heterogeneity in the individual physiological responses to the consumption of these compounds has been identified. This meta-analysis aimed to study the effect of flavonol supplementation on biomarkers of CVD risk such as, blood lipids, blood pressure and plasma glucose, as well as factors affecting their inter-individual variability. Data from 18 human randomized controlled trials were pooled and the effect was estimated using fixed or random effects meta-analysis model and reported as difference in means (DM). Variability in the response of blood lipids to supplementation with flavonols was assessed by stratifying various population subgroups: age, sex, country, and health status. Results showed significant reductions in total cholesterol (DM = -0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.20, -0.01), LDL cholesterol (DM = -0.14 mmol/L; Nutrients 2017, 9, 117 2 of 21 95% CI: -0.21, 0.07), and triacylglycerol (DM = -0.10 mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.18, 0.03), and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol (DM = 0.05 mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.07). A significant reduction was also observed in fasting plasma glucose (DM = -0.18 mmol/L; 95%CI: -0.29, -0.08), and in blood pressure (SBP: DM = -4.84 mmHg; 95% CI: -5.64, -4.04; DBP: DM = -3.32 mmHg; 95% CI: -4.09, -2.55). Subgroup analysis showed a more pronounced effect of flavonol intake in participants from Asian countries and in participants with diagnosed disease or dyslipidemia, compared to healthy and normal baseline values. In conclusion, flavonol consumption improved biomarkers of CVD risk, however, country of origin and health status may influence the effect of flavonol intake on blood lipid levels.
Keywords: flavonols; Interindividual variability; cardiovascular disease; meta‐analysis; quercetin; systematic review; blood lipids; blood pressure; glucose.