Background: Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of global death with tendency to increase due to population ageing as well as an increase in risk factors for heart disease. Despite improving patient’s survival rate, current therapies are associated with several side effects, directing research towards the development of novel preventive and/or therapeutic strategies. Interestingly, plant metabolites such as essential oils have emerged as promising agents due to their biological effects. These volatile extracts are primarily rich in terpenes and phenylpropanoids, that have also been recognized as beneficial agents. Recently, we reviewed the effects of terpenes and terpene-rich essential oils and highlighted their main effects on the cardiovascular system.
Objective: Bearing in mind that several essential oils are rich in phenylpropanoids, that may also play a crucial role in the effect of the plant extract, a comprehensive and systematic review focusing on these compounds is presented.
Methods: Popular search engines including PubMed, Science Direct, Scopus and Google Scholar were consulted and papers from 2000 onwards selected. Non-volatile phenylpropanoids were not considered in this review.
Results: A compilation of the current knowledge on this thematic pointed out beneficial effects for volatile phenylpropanoids namely hypotensive, vasorelaxant, antiplatelet aggregation, antidyslipidaemic and antidiabetic ones, as well as protective properties against ischemia/reperfusion injury and heart hypertrophy.
Conclusion: A better understanding of the protective effects of phenylpropanoids on the cardiovascular system is presented, thus paving the way towards future research on plant-based therapies for CVDs.