Polyphenols as potential therapeutical agents against cardiovascular diseases.
Increasing evidence suggests that polyphenols from fruits, vegetables and beverages such as wine and tea may exert protective effects on the cardiovascular system. Indeed, research in the field of polyphenols points out their antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties, leading to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and platelet aggregation. These compounds are also able to modulate the generation of nitric oxide (NO) from vascular endothelium and to interfere with the mechanisms leading to inflammation and endothelial apoptosis, contributing to the prevention of the endothelial dysfunction, known to play a central role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. This article reviews the potential targets of polyphenols involved in the complex pathophysiological events occurring in cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis and stroke.