Researchers at the University Hospital Düsseldorf have studied the effects that dietary cocoa flavanols (chocolate) can have on the blood vessels of healthy, low-risk individuals with no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Flavanol is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in various types of plants. Its antioxidant qualities can be extremely important to maintaining a healthy body. Coco beans are one plant that contains a significant amount of these compounds and of course coco is used to produce chocolate.
Improving Cardiovascular Health and Lowering the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) by Eating Chocolate
The study in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at 100 healthy, middle-aged men and women (35-60 years) with low risk of CVD. The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to arterial stiffness, blood pressure and the dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure.
“We found that intake of flavanols significantly improves several of the hallmarks of cardiovascular health,” said Professor Kelm, lead researcher. “We found that the cocoa flavanols had reduced the 10-year risk of being diagnosed with CVD by 22% and the 10-year risk of suffering a heart attack by 31%.”