12 January - 20 June 2016

Regular cocoa flavanol (CF) intake improved accredited cardiovascular surrogates of cardiovascular risk

23 September 2015

The flavanols found in cocoa and other foods can have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, this being shown by reducing blood pressure amongst other factors. 

A recent study, involving teams from the Universities of Dusseldorf and Reading, has shown that the intake of an isolated cocoa flavanol extract (CF) can improve heart function in patients with cardiovascular risk factors and disease. The effects of CF on cardiovascular health were quantified by monitoring endothelial cell function in both at risk and not at risk groups who ingested a twice daily level of 450 mg of CF, with the exception of the control group, for 1 month. 

By applying the Framingham Risk Score (a method used to determine the level of cardiovascular risk based on plasma lipids and blood pressure), a significant lowering of the 10-year risk for CHD, myocardial infarction, CVD, death from CHD and CVD could be said to be seen from the study. Additionally, in individuals termed healthy, regular CF intake demonstrated that an increase in dietary flavanols have the potential to help maintain good cardiovascular health, even in low-risk subjects, although this was shown to plateau after 2 weeks. 

The findings, which demonstrate improvements including vascular function and metabolism, can be said to support the notion that CF intake can support the maintenance of cardiovascular health and adds to the accumulating weight of evidence regarding the health benefits of dietary flavanols and procyanidins in general. It is suggested that the future evidence-based assessments of dietary guidelines will begin to include more serious assessments of these food components to establish longer term health benefits.

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