Norfolk diet study shows tea, apples and cocoa could prevent heart disease
- Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Researchers who analysed the diets of 25,000 people in Norfolk found that drinking tea and eating apples could prevent heart disease.
Consuming foods and drinks that are rich in flavanols - such as apples, berries, nuts and tea - could lead to lower blood pressure, according to the research, published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study looked at 25,618 participants from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk study, who have been providing information about their diet, lifestyle and health for more than two decades.
An international team of researchers, including experts from the University of Reading and Cambridge University, measured the participants’ flavanol intake using nutritional biomarkers.
MORE: Where to find Norfolk apple varietiesFlavanols are a type of plant nutrient that have been shown to help support blood circulation and vessel health.
Professor Gunter Kuhnle, a nutritionist at the University of Reading who led the research, said: “We are delighted to see that in our study, there was also a meaningful and significant association between flavanol consumption and lower blood pressure.
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“What this study gives us is an objective finding about the association between flavanols - found in tea and some fruits - and blood pressure.
“This research confirms the results from previous dietary intervention studies and shows that the same results can be achieved with a habitual diet rich in flavanols.
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“In the British diet, the main sources are tea, cocoa, apples and berries.”
Based on their findings, the researchers said if the general public increased its flavanol intake, there could be an overall reduction in cardiovascular disease incidence.
MORE: 101 Great Taste Award-winning products from Suffolk and Norfolk you have to tryDr Ian Johnson, nutrition researcher and Emeritus Fellow at the Quadram Institute in Norwich, described the findings as “an important, high-quality investigation of some physiological effects of dietary flavonoids”.
He said: “The authors have been able to show that systolic blood pressure was lower in participants consuming the highest quantities of flavonoids, compared to those consuming the lowest.
“This is a potentially important observation because it is consistent with the growing evidence from randomised controlled human intervention trials showing that relatively high doses of certain flavonoids can exert a blood-pressure lowering effect.”
But Dr Johnson, who was not involved in the research, added that despite all its strengths, the observational study “cannot establish a causal effect of flavonoid intake at the population level”.