Cocoa compound flavanol can improve cardiovascular health, says study

Cocoa compound flavanol

A number of recent studies using various methods have shown that Cocoa compound flavanol could benefit cardiovascular health.

Now researchers from Brown University conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomized controlled studies of cocoa consumption and find some further supporting evidence.

The meta-analysis is published in the Journal of Nutrition. It was an assessment of the combined evidence from all 19 studies.

Researchers tested whether eating flavanol-rich cocoa products was associated with better cardiovascular health. A total of 1,139 volunteers were involved in these studies.

The result showed small-to-modest but statistically significant improvements among those who ate flavanol-rich cocoa product vs. those who did not.

The greatest effects were seen among participants who ate between 200 and 600 milligrams of flavanol a day (based on their cocoa consumption).

There were significant declines in blood glucose and insulin, as well as another indicator of insulin resistance called HOMA-IR. Researchers also saw an increase in HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

In addition, people consuming higher doses saw some of the insulin resistance benefits and a drop in cholesterol, but not a significant increase in HDL. Those with lower doses of flavanol only saw a significant HDL benefit.

Researchers suggest that cocoa compound flavanol intake might reduce cholesterol, insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which are all major subclinical risk factors for heart and metabolic diseases.

Importantly, the health benefits of cocoa compounds are true for both men and women, and they do not depend on what physical form the flavanol-rich cocoa product is consumed in –dark chocolate vs. a beverage, for example.

Researches also mention some limitations in the 19 studies.

All studies were small and of short duration, not all of the biomarkers tracked in these studies changed for the better, and none of the studies were designed to test directly whether cocoa flavanol leads to less heart attacks or type 2 diabetes.

In addition, the findings from the current study apparently shouldn’t be generalized to different sorts of chocolate candies or white chocolates

In these foods, the content of sugar/food additives may be substantially higher than that of the dark chocolate.

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News source: Brown University.
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