Anthocyanins plus bromelain may boost blood vessel function, reduce BP: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
© Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

Related tags Anthocyanin bromelain Endothelial function Systolic blood pressure Heart health

A combination of anthocyanin-rich extracts from hawthorn berries and tart cherry plus bromelain from pineapple may improve measures of endothelial function and reduce systolic blood pressure, says a new study.

Data published in the British Journal of Nutrition​ indicated that an acute dose of the anthocyanin-bromelain supplement led to significant reductions in systolic blood pressure of about 4 mmHg.

In addition, the supplement produced improvements in flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD - a measure of a blood vessel's healthy ability to relax) of about 3.5%, which may be “clinically relevant”,​ said researchers from the University of Nebraska, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst

“A study has reported that there is an estimated 13 % decrease in the future risk for cardiovascular events for every 1% increase in FMD,” ​they wrote.

“Our results indicated an improvement in FMD of about 3.5% […] following BE intake, suggesting that this increase in FMD might reduce future risks of cardiovascular events by nearly 50%.”

The authors stressed that this was in response to an acute dose of the supplement, and that chronic supplementation studies are needed before any conclusions can be drawn about potential long-term improvements in heart health.

“This [combined anthocyanins and bromelain] supplement has a potential to help improve and support vascular health in healthy populations. Further research is needed to demonstrate whether these results may translate into clinical benefits and if this supplement may offer a potential therapeutic approach for CVD populations,” ​they wrote.

Study details

The researchers recruited 18 healthy adults with an average age of 24 to participate in their double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover trial. Volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either the anthocyanin-bromelain supplement or a placebo. This was followed by a two week “washout” period and then they crossed over to the other intervention.

The study used the commercially available CardioEffects supplement provided by Omaha-based Fitfully LLC. The supplement (provided as two capsules) provided 465, 480 and 400 mg of hawthorn extract (Crataegus​ spp.), tart cherry powder (Prunus cerasus​) and bromelain, respectively.

The results showed that, in addition to the significant improvements in FMD and systolic blood pressure, the anthocyanin-bromelain supplement led to significant increases in total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and oxygen utility capacity, compared with placebo.

The researchers also reported that tissue saturation and oxygenated Hb significantly increased following consumption of the CardioEffects supplement, while deoxygenated Hb also significantly decreased during exercise.

On the other hand, there were no significant differences between the groups for resting heart rate, diastolic BP or fatigability index.

“Our results revealed for the first time that a combined anthocyanin and bromelain-rich antioxidant supplement showed acute improvements in endothelial function, systolic BP, TAC and skeletal muscle oxygen transport and utility capacity both at rest and during exercise,” ​wrote the researchers.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1017/S0007114520002548
“Combined anthocyanins and bromelain supplement improves endothelial function and skeletal muscle oxygenation status in adults: a double-blind placebo-controlled randomised crossover clinical trial”
Authors: E.J. Pekas et al.

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