Do Plant Polyphenols Have Anti-Platelet Activity?

The anti-platelet heart benefits of phenolic compounds present in the proper prediabetes diet may not be physiologically relevant?

The phytonutrient polyphenol plant compounds are a popular topic of discussion at Nutrientology because of their numerous health benefits including cardiovascular health as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The consumption of diets rich in vegetables and fruits is known to protect against the development of cardiovascular disease, including the blood flow to the feet and legs that keep you moving, partly due to the polyphenolic content of these foods.

Activated blood platelets play a central role in the development of cardiovascular disease because they are a major part of plaque formation that block blood vessels and cause “hardening of the arteries.”  Polyphenol phytonutrients have been shown to affect human platelet function in the laboratory and in the body, but the anti-platelet effects of these nutrients obtained through dietary intake is not well-known.

The polyphenol anti-platelet mechanism has been called into question by recent research questioning the role of plant polyphenols in cardiovascular health, by finding that their supposed anti-platelet activities are only relevant at high concentrations that are not achievable through dietary intake.

The study was published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (Sept. 2011). The researchers looked at 26 low molecular weight phenolic compounds and their anti-platelet effects in vitro, and saw that only very high concentrations of these compounds had an anti-platelet effect. Both platelet activation and aggregation were examined as they represent two separate steps contributing to plaque formation within blood vessels.

They concluded that because such high concentrations of phenols are unlikely to be reached in the circulation through dietary intake,

it is doubtful whether consumption of dietary phenolics in nutritionally attainable amounts plays a major role in inhibition of platelet activation and aggregation in humans.

The physiological effects of polyphenol compounds are numerous and varied. As with any study, how an isolated compound may react in a controlled laboratory setting may be different than its activity in the complex biological environment of the human body. This research helps us to better understand the properties of these interesting phytonutrients  and their possible benefit for the prediabetes diet.

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About Robert Creighton

Dr. Creighton is a podiatrist and foot surgeon with over 26 years in podiatric practice treating thousands of patients afflicted with the physiological, physical, and psychological side effects and complications of diabetes and pre-diabetes metabolic syndrome. He believes these disorders present a pressing public health concern that need to be more actively addressed in a multidisciplinary way. Dr. Creighton graduated from what is now the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine after receiving his undergraduate degree in Biology. He is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, a member of the American Public Health Association, an American College of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer and a Member of the American Nutrition Association.

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