Nutrition, i.e. our daily diet, is a major life style factor, greatly impacting on human health and disease. Epidemiological evidence suggests that diets rich in plant-based foods and beverages decrease the risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Various phytochemical constituents, in particular a class of compounds called flavanols, have been avidly investigated in recent years. Current dietary interventions in humans using flavanol-containing foods have substantiated epidemiological data indicating various potential dietary flavanol-mediated bioactivities, including improved vascular function, decreased blood pressure, attenuated platelet clotting, and improved immune responses. Latest innovations in flavanol analytics, chemistry, food processing technology, and cardiovascular function analysis make the elucidation of underlying mechanisms of flavanol bioactivity not just possible, but also impactful with regard to dietary advice and public health. Thus, a practical application of novel findings emanating from flavanol research in terms of a science/evidence-based development represents a worthwhile endeavour. This entails development of novel food ingredients, and innovative nutrient-delivery matrices. Such novel, nutritionally responsible food formulations hold the potential to open novel avenues in the prevention and amelioration of cardiovascular diseases in Europe. FLAVIOLA aims at: (i) illuminating the cellular and sub-cellular effects of flavanols and their main human metabolites; (ii) investigating key parameters of dietary flavanol absorption, clearance and efficacy towards surrogate markers of cardiovascular function in humans; (iii) developing innovative, functional, and nutritionally responsible food matrices for optimised dietary flavanol delivery; and finally (iv) demonstrating cardiovascular benefits and safety for a newly developed prototype food product.
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