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Dietary approaches to enhance vascular health

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death world-wide. It kills over 17 million people annually, and in Australia, close to one third of all deaths are due to CVD. Most of these deaths can be prevented or delayed. Lifestyle change could reduce risk of CVD by more than 70%, and even small lifestyle changes have the potential to lead to substantial benefits.

Increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains remains the foundation of dietary approaches to prevent CVD. This alone has the potential to cut CVD risk and associated costs by up to 25%. Surprisingly little is known about the components of these foods that contribute to blood vessel health, or the mechanisms involved. Identifying these specific components and mechanisms will enhance targeted dietary approaches for CVD prevention.

Our research program aims to investigate how specific components present in plant foods could prevent CVD. It also aims to develop and evaluate new foods targeted at CVD prevention.

Within this research program, research projects are designed to establish how components of fruits, vegetables and legumes improve blood vessel health. The projects fall under several themes including:

  1. Understanding how flavonoids from fruit and tea can enhance blood vessel health;
  2. Development and health evaluation of new flavonoid-rich fruit;
  3. Determining the importance of the nitrate derived from vegetables for cardiovascular health; and
  4. Development and health evaluation of foods and diets enriched in grain legumes

The conduct of randomised controlled trials is the foundation of the research program. Further mechanistic insights are provided by laboratory-based studies, studies using animal models and observational epidemiological studies.

The research is supported by National Health and Medical Research Council project grants and industry grants. It also involves wide-ranging collaboration with industry partners.

Researchers

Contact

For further information contact:

Professor Jonathan Hodgson
Telephone: (61 8) 9224 0267
Email: Jonathan.Hodgson@ecu.edu.au

Dr Catherine Bondonno
Telephone (61 8) 9224 0339
Email: C.Bondonno@ecu.edu.au

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