Some researchers suggest that cocoa intake protects
the inner lining of the blood vessels and prevents the formation of
plaques. Plaques tend to stiffen the
arteries. They could also narrow and
block the blood vessels. The protective
effect of cocoa could possibly be attributed to its antioxidant property. Cocoa
is rich in flavanols that protect the blood vessels.
Unfortunately, a lot of the flavanols are
destroyed during processing of cocoa, thus neutralizing the beneficial effects.
published study assessed the protective effect of cocoa on blood vessels in 351
These individuals also had conditions like
high blood pressure, diabetes or high lipid levels, which increase the risk for
developing heart disease. Information regarding cocoa intake was obtained
through a questionnaire. People taking ≤1
serving/week were considered as low cocoa consumers whereas those taking more
than 1 serving per week were referred to as high consumers.
Various parameters related to the heart and blood
vessels were measured. These included
central and peripheral blood pressure, central and peripheral augmentation
index, pulse wave velocity, ambulatory arterial stiffness index, carotid
intima-media thickness, and ankle-brachial index.
More number of males reported high cocoa consumption
in the study. However, it was found that
cocoa intake did not affect arterial stiffness or blood pressure measurements
in these patients.
The study however did not take into consideration
the flavanol content of the cocoa; thus further studies may be required to
establish the benefit of cocoa with high flavanol content in people at a risk
for heart disease. Reference
1. Jose I Recio-rodriguez et al.
Cocoa intake and arterial stiffness in subjects with cardiovascular risk
factors. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:8