Flavonoids and cardiovascular risk factors: a review
Several modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors are associated with the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death worldwide. A healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, lowers the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Intake of flavonoids, a class of plant-derived polyphenols widely distributed in fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, and wine, is the hallmark of the Mediterranean diet that has been associated with reduced cardiovascular risk factors. Several mechanisms underpin this beneficial activity: a direct vasodilatory effect, prevention of endothelial dysfunction, inhibition of platelet aggregation, and smooth muscle cell proliferation along with an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, and anti-atherosclerotic effect. This review provides an updated overview of the mechanisms by which flavonoids ameliorate cardiovascular risk factors, thus retarding cardiovascular disease progression.