Guideline recommendation for a plant bioactive such as flavan-3-ols is a departure from previous recommendations because it is not based on deficiencies but rather improvement in health outcomes. Nevertheless, there is a rapidly growing body of clinical data reflecting benefits of flavan-3-ol intake that outweigh potential harms. Thus, the objective of the Expert Panel was to develop an intake recommendation for flavan-3-ols and cardiometabolic outcomes to inform multiple stakeholders including clinicians, policymakers, public health entities, and consumers. Guideline development followed the process set forth by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which includes use of the Evidence to Decision Framework. Studies informing this guideline (157 randomized controlled trials and 15 cohort studies) were previously reviewed in a recently published systematic review and meta-analysis. Quality and strength-of-evidence along with risk-of-bias in reporting was reviewed. In drafting the guideline, data assessments and opinions by authoritative scientific bodies providing guidance on the safety of flavan-3-ols were considered. Moderate evidence supporting cardiometabolic protection resulting from flavan-3-ol intake in the range of 400–600 mg/d was supported in the literature. Further, increasing consumption of dietary flavan-3-ols can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol concentrations, and blood sugar. Strength of evidence was strongest for some biomarkers (i.e., systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and insulin/glucose dynamics). It should be noted that this is a food-based guideline and not a recommendation for flavan-3-ol supplements. This guideline was based on beneficial effects observed across a range of disease biomarkers and endpoints. Although a comprehensive assessment of available data has been reviewed, evidence gaps identified herein can inform scientists in guiding future randomized clinical trials.
This work was supported by IAFNS Bioactives Committee.