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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

George Mason: Diet, Gut Microbe May Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

The World Health Organization estimates that 17.5 million people die annually from cardiovascular disease worldwide. Additionally, 1 in 4 deaths in the United States can be attributed to cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent research has suggested that microbes in the gut may help reduce the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.


In a new review study, Dr. Cara Frankenfeld, associate professor of global and community health, examines the relationship between gut microbial phytoestrogen metabolites and cardiometabolic risk factors, including blood pressure, abdominal obesity, and serum lipid, triglycerides, glucose, and inflammatory markers. The study is published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

“Recent studies have shown that our gut microbiome, which is different for each person, combined with our dietary consumption may play a role in reducing the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Frankenfeld said. “As a result, personalized nutrition to help prevent and treat diseases is gaining in interest. This review focused on the role the gut microbiome plays in reducing these risk factors by examining what happens in the body after the gut bacteria metabolize plant phenolic compounds.”

Frankenfeld’s review focused on the role of isoflavones, which are a class of phytoestrogens commonly found in soy foods, as well as lignans and flavonoids, and their potential role in gut microbial metabolism.

Her review highlighted that while there may be an association between reduced cardiovascular disease risk factors and phytoestrogen-metabolizing phenotypes, more research is needed in several areas to focus on the different patterns of cardiometabolic risk related to each phenotype.