Recommending flavanols and procyanidins for cardiovascular health: current knowledge and future needs.
Data on the potential health benefits of dietary flavanols and procyanidins, especially in the context of cardiovascular health, are considerable and continue to accumulate. Significant progress has been made in flavanol analytics and the creation of phytonutrient-content food databases, and novel data emanated from epidemiological investigations as well as dietary intervention studies. However, a comprehensive understanding of the pharmacological properties of flavanols and procyanidins, including their precise mechanisms of action in vivo, and a conclusive, consensus-based accreditation of a causal relationship between intake and health benefits in the context of primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention is still outstanding. Thus, the objective of this review is to identify and discuss key questions and gaps that will need to be addressed in order to conclusively demonstrate whether or not dietary flavanols and procyanidins have a role in preventing, delaying the onset of, or treating cardiovascular diseases, and thus improving human life expectancy and quality of life.