University of Reading: Make bioactives part of dietary guidelines, experts say

Bioactives should be included in dietary guidelines to promote health, said leading experts at a conference hosted by the University of Reading.


Bioactives should be included in dietary guidelines to promote health, said leading experts at a conference hosted by the University of Reading.

Food scientists from the University’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences hosted the 10th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health held in London in April 2022, which included presentations on the latest evidence about the health benefits of bioactives, in particular flavanols.

Bioactives are compounds found in a range of food and drink, that are not considered essential like vitamins but can improve health. Flavanols, a group of bioactives, have been investigated for more than two decades for their potential effect on health. They are found in many foods – in particular pome fruits like apples, berries and tea. During the conference, leading researchers concluded that there is now enough evidence for health benefits of flavanols to see dietary guidelines take this into account. They also raised the question about the impact on health when delaying such recommendations much longer.

Professor Jeremy Spencer, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Reading and Co-President of the International Conference on Polyphenols and Health said:

“The conference represented a high water mark with respect to the growing body of evidence regarding the benefits of flavanols. In particular, the results from the COSMOS trial indicated that their regular consumption imparts a significant benefit for cardiovascular health and against cognitive decline.”

The conference heard from one the most significant research trials on bioactives. The COSMOS trial is the first large-scale, long term randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of dietary flavanols on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality at such a scale that the findings are meaningful to public health.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School presented the trial, and the subsequent discussion focused on the imperative for the scientific community to now translate these findings into actionable advice and recommendations for the general public.

Other presentations during the four-day conference included experts from the University of Reading’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences sharing latest research about the benefits of bioactives for heart, gut and cognitive health.

Professor Gunter Kuhnle, Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Reading , Co-President of the the International Conference on Polyphenols and Health said:

“The evidence basis for flavanols making a meaningful effect on health has reached a point where we feel that guidelines for consumption should be considered. We have a wealth of evidence showing that they are safe to consume and that it’s entirely possible to get a significant amount without drastically changing dietary patterns. It’s now time to recognize that bioactive-rich foods should be part of a healthy diet.”

Comments are closed.