Eat Chocolate!

By / Magazine / July 12th, 2010 / 1

Here’s just one more example why we should all think of cocoa as a necessary food group. As if we needed a reason …

Recent research suggests cocoa flavanols (the antioxidants in cocoa) could be an important part of a healthy diet for people with cardiovascular disease.

New findings indicate that cocoa flavanols may be an important part of a healthy diet for people with cardiovascular disease according to research by a team of international researchers. The breakthrough study conducted at the University of California San Francisco and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that daily cocoa flavanol consumption more than doubled the number of circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) in the blood (in other words – the cells that are in charge of blood vessel repair and maintenance functions).

Poor blood vessel function is recognized as an early stage in the development process of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including coronary artery disease. Increasing levels of CACs have also been associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular causes, according to a 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Participants drank either a high-flavanol cocoa drink, or a low-flavanol nutrient-matched control cocoa drink, twice a day for 30 days. The difference? The study found that drinking high-flavanol cocoa significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and improved blood vessel function by 47% compared to low-flavanol consumption in adults with severe cardiovascular disease. So, the antioxidants that occur naturally in cocoa are fundamental to good heart health.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” says Carl Keen, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Internal Medicine at University of California Davis and one of the study authors. “It’s not often that we’re able to identify a natural food compound that can demonstrate a benefit on top of traditional medical treatment. And perhaps most importantly, for the first time, we found that cocoa flavanols might even directly mobilize important cells that could repair damaged blood vessels.”

Go ahead, have that second scoop of chocolate ice cream. It’s good for you.

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Looking at the small things that make life great and the people who create them.

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