Posted on Jan 20, 2016, 6 a.m.
What flavonoid-rich foods may help to lessen air pollution's effects in triggering heart disease?
Plant-based antioxidants – compounds that can beneficially affect some types of cell damage, flavonoids are found abundantly in blueberries, dark chocolate, and red wine. Jia Zhong, from Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on 573 men enrolled in the Boston-based Normative Aging Study, collecting and tracking heart rate variability and exposure to fine particulate matter over an 11-year period. Observing that the men tended to suffer from reduced heart rate variability when smog levels rose for 48 hours, the effect was even more pronounced for those men whose genetics tended to suppress a protein called toll-like receptor 2, which detects foreign substances and passes on signals to the immune system. However, air pollution and genetics had a significantly weaker effect among those subjects who consumed high levels of flavonoids. The study authors submit that: “high flavonoid intake emolliates the hazardous effect of pollution, likely through regulating [toll-like receptor 2] methylation.”
Jia Zhong, Elena Colicino, Xinyi Lin, Amar Mehta, Andrea Baccarelli, et al. “Toll-Like Receptor 2 Methylation and Dietary Flavonoid Intake Modify the Association Between Fine Particle Exposure and Cardiac Autonomic Dysfunction: The Normative Aging Study” [Abstract #15898]. Presentation at American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2014, 18 November 2014.