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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health

Here's some great news for chocolate lovers (that includes me)! Many of you may have heard that eating chocolate is good for your heart. I wanted to share a couple articles with you that you may be interested in reading, even though they may be a little advanced.

The first one is from the journal Circulation published last year. Here's the abstract:

Epidemiological data demonstrate that regular dietary intake of plant-derived foods and beverages reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Among many ingredients, cocoa might be an important mediator. Indeed, recent research demonstrates a beneficial effect of cocoa on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and vascular and platelet function. Although still debated, a range of potential mechanisms through which cocoa might exert its benefits on cardiovascular health have been proposed, including activation of nitric oxide and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This review summarizes the available data on the cardiovascular effects of cocoa, outlines potential mechanisms involved in the response to cocoa, and highlights the potential clinical implications associated with its consumption.

You can find the full-text here:
Corti R, Flammer AJ, Hollenberg NK, L├╝scher TF. Cocoa and cardiovascular health. Circulation. 2009 Mar 17;119(10):1433-41.

Here's an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from 2005:

Abstract: An increasing body of epidemiologic evidence supports the concept that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can promote health and attenuate, or delay, the onset of various diseases. Epidemiologic data support the idea that these health benefits are causally linked to the consumption of certain flavonoids present in fruit and vegetables. In the context of cardiovascular health, a particular group of flavonoids, namely, the flavan-3-ols (flavanols), has received attention. Flavanol-rich, plant-derived foods and beverages include wine, tea, and various fruits and berries, as well as cocoa and cocoa products. Numerous dietary intervention studies in humans and animals indicate that flavanol-rich foods and beverages might exert cardioprotective effects with respect to vascular function and platelet reactivity. This review discusses the bioactivity of flavanols in the context of cardiovascular health, with respect to their bioavailability, their antioxidant properties, and their vascular effects.

You can find the full-text here:
Keen CL, Holt RR, Oteiza PI, Fraga CG, Schmitz HH. Cocoa antioxidants and cardiovascular health. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1 Suppl):298S-303S.

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