chapter  6
22 Pages

Cardiovascular Protection Effects of Proanthocyanidins

ByGraham C. Llivina, Megan M. Waguespack, Angela I. Calderón

The leading cause of death worldwide is cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases include myocardial infarction, stroke, cardiomyopathy, aortic aneurysms, hypertension and heart failure. Because of CVD’s enormous societal burden, there is growing interest in dietary intervention to mitigate the severity of the disease. Proanthocyanidins – polyphenolic compounds found in extracts from grape skins, grape seeds, chocolate, pomegranates, bilberries, cranberries and other plant-derived sources – have shown promise in preventing cardiovascular disease. This literary research project focused on the role that proanthocyanidins A1, B1, B2, B3, B4, B5 and B6 play in mitigating the risk of cardiovascular disease in humans and lab rats. The goal of this project was to examine the polyphenolic content in several botanical compounds with high levels of proanthocyanidins – including grapes, chocolate, pomegranates, cranberries and bilberries – and determine if their cardioprotective effects on lab rats, human test subjects and hamsters were statistically significant. Our information – compiled using research-specific search engines such as PubMed and SciFinder – was filtered for content and used on the basis of the research strength. Studies tracking the effects of proanthocyanidin activity in human test subjects were of particular interest. Our findings indicated that proanthocyanidin extracts from grape seeds, grape skins, cranberries, bilberries, pomegranates and cocoa demonstrated significant benefits on cardiovascular health markers in humans and animals. Beneficial effects include decreases in total cholesterol, total triglyceride, LDL oxidation and total lipid levels as well as reductions in blood pressure, oxidative stress levels and inflammatory markers. Studies testing the cardioprotective effects of proanthocyanidins invariably indicate a proportional increase in proanthocyanidin intake and cardiovascular health. Thus, current evidence suggests a strong link between cardioprotective activity and proanthocyanidin extract consumption in human test subjects. Based on our findings, we believe that further clinical research into the value of proanthocyanidins in the near future is warranted.