Research Fellows Directory
Professor Aedin Cassidy
University of East Anglia
In an era where preventive medicine is becoming increasingly important from both a social and economic perspective, what we eat is central for improving health. Although over 50% of our contemporary public health problems (including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia) could be prevented through dietary change it is still unclear what constitutes a healthy diet for different individuals. Recent data suggest that diets rich in fruits are the third most important modifiable factor for reducing global rates of non-communicable diseases; only blood pressure lowering medication and smoking cessation had greater effects. However which fruits are most beneficial and what key constituents are responsible for the health benefits remain to be established. Growing evidence from my group’s work and others supports the beneficial effect of plant bioactives called flavonoids, naturally present in fruits and vegetables, which exert effects on blood pressure and insulin control, suggesting that flavonoids might be more likely than other constituents of fruits and vegetables to explain the lower risk, particularly for cardiovascular disease and diabetes which remain the major contributors to morbidity and mortality. Working with my USA colleagues, I conduct studies that use information from thousands of participants to measure intakes of different flavonoids and relate these to the risk of developing diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline. Our studies show that several flavonoids may be important to health: specifically anthocyanins that are present in red/blue coloured fruits. We are now conducting clinical trials to further understand what amount and source of the substances may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Studies like these can help us to identify ways to reduce the risk of developing diseases, and thus to have a significant positive impact on public health.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)