There is a great need to establish the relevance of vascular function markers to evaluate the impact or potential of diet on cardiovascular health. Therefore, the Top Institute Food and Nutrition carries out a large multidisciplinary programme on cardiovascular health, which is a collaborative effort of research groups in Wageningen, Maastricht and Groningen.
The overall aim of the project is to substantiate the validity and relevance for cardiovascular health of selected diet-sensitive vascular function markers. Central research questions are if, how, and to what extent diet-induced changes in vascular function markers predict cardiovascular health outcomes in humans. A multidisciplinary approach is used to address these questions, and to demonstrate and unravel mechanistic cause-effect relationships of dietary ingredients with vascular function markers, endothelial (dys)function, blood pressure, other established cardiovascular risk factors, and disease risk.
This part of the project focuses on the elucidation of the role of polyphenols on vascular function. Polyphenols are a complex class of dietary substances found ubiquitously in plants. Polyphenol-rich foods such as cocoa and tea have been shown to improve vascular function and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is thought to be due to the polyphenols epicatechin and quercetin. Objectives of this project are to determine the effects of epicatechin and quercetin on blood pressure, endothelial function and inflammation. The project includes two human intervention trials as well as an epidemiological analysis.
Another part of this project, carried out by another PhD candidate in the Division of Human Nutrition, focuses on the role of sodium and potassium intake and vascular and renal function.
Another related project focuses on Epidemiological studies of dietary vitamin K, polyphenols and cardiovascular disease.