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Good for the Heart? Here's Another Reason to Love Chocolates

Oct 16, 2016 03:58 AM EDT
Choco for the Heart
Recent study found out that flavanol, a compound found in cocoa and some teas, help in improving cardiovascular health. But don't jump into your conclusions yet-- the expert meant dark chocolates for the moment.
(Photo : poetrybo74/Public Domain/Pixabay)

Aside from the sweet tooth's cravings and that nice feeling while munching on a bar of chocolate, experts have now more evidence that chocolates are not only good for speaking your heart out, but keeping it healthy as well.

Before, studies of the effect of flavanol-rich foods to human health was not that established. For the past few years, patches of staggered hints relating to the compound's effect in cardiovascular system was merely observable, but there were statements wherein flavanol's beneficial effects were highlighted. For instance, the European Food Safety Authority Panel's scientific opinion mentioned about flavanol's contribution to the blood vessel's elasticity, therefore improving blood circulation.

But now, according to a study lead by Brown University, they have found out that the component of chocolates called flavanols help in improving circulation of biomarkers in contrast with placebo. Cardiovascular health was noted to improve as shown by the results of volunteers who consumed 200 to 600 mg of flavanols a day and experienced a decline in blood glucose and increase in good cholesterols.

Through a meta-analysis of 19 short-term randomized critical trials (RCTs) using DerSimonian and Laird random-effect models, the team has eventually connected the dots, establishing good correlation between flavanol-rich cocoa consumption on heart health.

"Our meta-analysis of RCTs characterizes how cocoa flavanols affect cardiometabolic biomarkers, providing guidance in designing large, definitive prevention trials against diabetes and cardiovascular disease in future work," said Dr. Simin Liu, a corresponding author and Director of the Global Cardiometabolic Health, Brown University on Brown University News.

"We found that cocoa flavanol intake may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which are all major subclinical risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases," he added.

Read: Cocoa Flavanol Intake and Biomarkers for Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

The flavanol intake ranged from 166 to 2110 mg/day for two to 52 weeks. Other factors that may also affect flavanol's responses, such as form of cocoa flavanol ingested, sex, comorbidities, and the like, were accounted for.

"The treatment groups of the trials included in our meta-analysis are primarily dark chocolate -- a few were using cocoa powder-based beverages," lead author Xiaochen Lin mentioned in Science Daily. "Therefore, the findings from the current study apparently shouldn't be generalized to different sorts of chocolate candies or white chocolates, of which the content of sugar/food additives could be substantially higher than that of the dark chocolate."

By the end of the paper, the researchers clarified that their results are limited only to short-term RCTs and that flavanol intakes in terms of long term ranges may also vary.

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