Berry (poly)phenols and Cardiovascular Health
Berries are a rich source of (poly)phenols, including anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, procyanidins, flavonols, ellagitannins, and hydroxycinnamates. Epidemiological evidence indicates that the cardiovascular health benefits of diets rich in berries are related to their (poly)phenol content. These findings are supported by small-scale randomized controlled studies (RCTs) that have shown improvements in several surrogate markers of cardiovascular risk such as blood pressure, endothelial function, arterial stiffness, and blood lipids after acute and short-term consumption of blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, or purified anthocyanin extracts in healthy or diseased individuals. However, firm conclusions regarding the preventive value of berry (poly)phenols cannot be drawn due to the small number of existing studies and limitations that apply to the available data, such as lack of controls or failure to assess the absorption and metabolism of (poly)phenols. Although the current evidence is promising, more long-term RCTs are needed to establish the role of berry (poly)phenols to support cardiovascular health.