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Effects of anthocyanins on blood pressure and stress reactivity: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study


High intakes of flavonoids are associated with reduced cardiovascular risk, and flavonoids such as cocoa and soy protein isolate have shown beneficial effects on blood pressure (BP). Anthocyanins constitute a flavonoid subgroup consumed in regular diets, but few studies have assessed the antihypertensive potential of anthocyanins. We aimed to assess whether high concentrations of relatively pure anthocyanins reduce BP and alter cardiovascular and catecholamine reactivity to stress. A total of 31 healthy men between 35–51 years of age with screening BP >140/90 mm Hg, not on antihypertensive or lipid-lowering medication, were randomised in a double-blind crossover study to placebo versus 320-mg anthoycanins twice daily. Treatment duration was 4 weeks, with a 4-week washout. Sitting and supine BP measurements, ambulatory BP recording and stress reactivity were assessed and analyzed by a paired sample t-test. In all, 27 patients completed all visits. Sitting systolic BP (primary endpoint) was 133 mm Hg after placebo versus 135 mm Hg after anthocyanin treatment (P=0.25). Anthocyanins did neither affect semiautomatic oscillometric BP measurements in the sitting or supine position nor 24-h ambulatory BP. No significant differences in stress reactivity were found across treatment periods. Overall, we conclude that high concentrations of these relatively pure anthocyanins do not reduce BP in healthy men with a high normal BP.

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We thank Vibeke Kjær and Christina Roaldsnes for substantial assistance during the study, Biolink AS for supply of Medox capsules and Anette Karlsen for angiotensin-converting enzyme analysis at the Department of Nutrition, Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

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Correspondence to S S Hassellund.

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Biolink AS (Sandnes, Norway) provided anthocyanin and placebo capsules for free. They provided the corresponding author half his income for 1 year. They were encouraged to comment on the manuscript; however, the conduction, analysis and article preparation were investigator initiated, and unfavourable results could not be restricted from publication.

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Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Human Hypertension website

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Hassellund, S., Flaa, A., Sandvik, L. et al. Effects of anthocyanins on blood pressure and stress reactivity: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study. J Hum Hypertens 26, 396–404 (2012).

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  • flavonoids
  • anthocyanins
  • blood pressure
  • randomized controlled trial
  • physiological stress reactivity
  • cardiovascular diseases

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