There is a lot of talk about “oxidative stress” and heart disease. This process results from an imbalance between excessive formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species and limited antioxidant defences. Endothelium (the lining found within blood vessels) and nitric oxide (NO) are key regulators of vascular health. NO bioavailability is regulated by ROS that degrade NO, uncouple NO synthase, and inhibit its production. Cardiovascular risk conditions contribute to oxidative stress, causing an imbalance between NO and ROS, with a relative decrease in NO bioavailability. Dietary flavonoids represent a range of polyphenolic compounds naturally occurring in plant foods. Flavonoids are potentially involved in cardiovascular prevention mainly by decreasing oxidative stress and increasing NO bioavailability.
Diet and nutrition play a fundamental role in cardiovascular prevention and in maintaining physiological homeostasis. Recent literature emphasizes the potential therapeutic effects of micronutrients found in natural products, indicating positive applications for controlling the pathogenesis of chronic cardiovascular disease. In this context, cocoa, some chocolates, red wine, and tea received much attention, because they are particularly rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals with strong antioxidant properties. In addition, polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in our diet and are common constituents of foods of plant origin and are widespread constituents of fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive, dry legumes, chocolate and beverages, such as tea, coffee and wine.
The full study is available for down load (click here) where the reaserchers conclude that these key antioxidants exert a protective and preventative finctio in the battle against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.