Activated platelets contribute to plaque formation within blood vessels in the early and late stages of atherogenesis, and therefore they have been proposed as risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin, are now the most prescribed pharmacological treatment in Europe. Certain dietary bioactives also beneficially affect platelet function, and with less side effects, albeit that effects are generally more subtle. Therefore, consumption of dietary bioactives could play a role in the prevention of atherothrombotic vascular disease. Here we review the efficacy of dietary treatment strategies, especially those involving certain dietary fatty acids and polyphenols, to modulate platelet function in healthy subjects or in patients with cardiovascular disease. Variation in study populations, small study sizes and lack of comparability between methods to assess platelet function currently limit robust evidence on the efficacy of dietary bioactives in healthy subjects or specific patient groups. Also, limited knowledge of the metabolism of dietary bioactives, and therefore of the bioavailability of bioactive ingredients, restricts our ability to identify the most effective dietary regimes to improve platelet function. Implementation of uniform point-of-care tests to assess platelet function, and enhanced knowledge of the efficacy by which specific dietary compounds and their metabolites affect platelet function, may enable the identification of functional anti-platelet ingredients that are eligible for a health claim, or combined treatment strategies, including both pharmacological anti-platelet treatment as well as dietary intervention, to tackle atherothrombotic vascular disease.
Bibliographical noteConflict of interest statement
Dr Eva-Maria Bachmair received a scholarship partly funded by Stepan Nutrition Specialty Products BV for her PhD project on CLA and platelet function. Dr Xuguang Zhang received a scholarship partly funded by Provexis Ltd for his PhD project on dietary modulation of microparticle number and activation. Dr Baukje de Roos and Dr Luisa Ostertag declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Dietary fatty acids
- Dietary polyphenols
- Platelet function