Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Evidence of Cocoa's Health Benefits

New research shows that a cup of specially formulated cocoa can help ward off the cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes. The new German study proves that the flavanols present in cocoa can actually help blood vessels to function better and might soon be considered part of a healthy diet for the prevention of vascular diseases.

When researchers from University Hospital Aachen and the Technical University Aachen, in Aachen, Germany prescribed three mugs of specially formulated cocoa a day for a month, they found ’severely impaired’ arteries regained normal function. Flavanols, natural plant compounds also found in tea, red wine, and certain fruits and vegetables, are responsible for cocoa’s healthful benefits. It is thought that these flavanols raise nitric oxide production in the body, which causes arteries to relax.

Largely due to the damaging effects of high blood sugar on the linings of blood vessels, people with diabetes are at a greater risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and strokes. By eating wisely such people can reduce the risks, the study says.

Unfortunately eating normal chocolate does not provide the same benefits. The high-flavanol cocoa used in this study, which provided many times more flavanols than the typical U.S. dietary intake of 20 to 100 mg daily is not sold in the supermarket. The researchers have cautioned that the study does not mean that people with diabetes should guzzle cocoa, but rather, that dietary flavanols hold promise as a way to prevent heart disease.
The new research will be published in the June 3 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.