Good news. A new study has found drinking three glasses of red wine a week can help lower blood pressure.
The study, published Monday in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal, found a link between lower blood pressure and a higher intake of foods rich in flavonoids, including berries, apples, tea and red wine.
“Our gut microbiome plays a key role in metabolising flavonoids to enhance their cardio-protective effects, and this study provides evidence to suggest these blood-pressure-lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet,” lead investigator of the study Aedín Cassidy said.
Flavonoids are compounds found naturally in fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods, such as tea, dark chocolate and wine, and have been shown in previous research to offer a variety of health benefits to the body.
For the study, researchers examined the association between eating flavonoid-rich foods with blood pressure and gut microbiome diversity. To do this, a group of 904 adults between the ages of 25 and 82 were recruited for the study. Researchers evaluated the participants’ food intake, gut microbiome and blood pressure levels together.
The researchers found study participants who had the highest intake of flavonoid-rich foods, including berries, red wine, apples and pears, had lower systolic blood pressure levels, as well as a greater diversity in their gut microbiome.
For example, they found drinking 2.8 glasses (125ml of wine per glass) of red wine a week was associated with an average of 3.7mm Hg (millilitres of mercury) lower systolic blood pressure level. They also found eating 1.6 servings of berries per day (one serving equals 80 grams, or one cup) was associated with an average reduction in systolic blood pressure levels of 4.1mm Hg.
“Our findings indicate future trials should look at participants according to metabolic profile in order to more accurately study the roles of metabolism and the gut microbiome in regulating the effects of flavonoids on blood pressure,” Cassidy said. “A better understanding of the highly individual variability of flavonoid metabolism could very well explain why some people have greater cardiovascular protection benefits from flavonoid-rich foods than others.”
The findings come just a month after another study found drinking up to 105 grams of alcohol a week — the same as just under six pints of mid-strength beer or a bit more than a bottle of wine — could be associated with a decreased risk of having a heart attack, stroke or angina.
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