The cardioprotective effects of flavonoids: a focus on classic cardiovascular risk factors

Eleni Kokkou, Nikoleta Bozini, Maria Lavda, Konstantinos Mourouzis, Gerasimos Siasos



Cardiovascular disease remains the primary cause for death globally. Flavonoids are polyphenolic compoundswith well-known antioxidant properties, found in high concentrations in common dietary sources like fruits, vegetables, legumes. There is growing evidence that flavonoids exhibit cardioprotective properties by influencing classic risk factors for cardiovascular disease: hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, smoking and stress. Recent data show that flavonoids decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure through nitric oxide-dependent mechanisms. Cocoa-derived antioxidants are mostly associated with antihypertensive effects in several trials. Accordingly, rich in flavonoids, other types of food have a beneficial impact on lipid profile, by lowering LDL and increasing HDL levels, accompanied by an ameliorated proinflammatory cytokines’ pattern. The propitious influence of flavonoids in several metabolic diseases and particularly in diabetes mellitus, is mediated but their ability of mitigating insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues. Tea catechins play a pivotal role in regulating glucose metabolism among other polyphenols too, diminishing diabetic complications such as diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy etc. Interestingly, flavonoid consumption can reduce smoking detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system, by reducing redox state or inflammation. Accordingly, increased flavonoid uptake seems to exert anxiolytic and antidepressant properties, reducing psychological stress. More clinical studies should be conducted to better understand the beneficial impact of flavonoid consumption on cardiovascular health.

Keywords: coronary artery disease, flavonoids, hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, stress, smoking, obesity, atherosclerosis, resveratrol