Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now the leading cause of death globally and is a growing health concern. Lifestyle factors, including nutrition, play an important role in the etiology and treatment of CVD. Functional foods based on their basic nutritional functions can decrease the risk of many chronic diseases and have some physiological benefits. They contain physiologically active components either from plant or animal sources, marketed with the claim of their ability to reduce heart disease risk, focusing primarily on established risk factors, which are hyperlipidemia, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity/overweight, elevated lipoprotein A level, small dense low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and elevated inflammatory marker levels. Functional foods are suspected to exert their cardioprotective effects mainly through blood lipid profile level and improve hypertension control, endothelial function, platelet aggregation, and antioxidant actions. Clinical and epidemiological observations indicate that vegetable and fruit fiber, nuts and seeds, sea foods, coffee, tea, and dark chocolate have cardioprotective potential in humans, as well whole-grain products containing intact grain kernels rich in fiber and trace nutrients. They are nutritionally more important because they contain phytoprotective substances that might work synergistically to reduce cardiovascular risk. This review will focus on the reciprocal interaction between functional foods and the potential link to cardiovascular health and the possible mechanisms of action.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; functional foods; nutrition.