Health Benefits of Flavanol-Rich Cocoa

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Flavanol-Rich Cocoa

Research has demonstrated that consumption of naturally occurring compounds in cocoa can lead to a range of circulatory health benefits including the first observed brain and cardiovascular blood flow improvements, according to research published in the latest issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, in a supplement that focuses on the potential health benefits of flavanol-rich cocoa.

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Previous studies have demonstrated that the consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa can improve blood vessel function and may even reduce the formation of damaging clots. This new, published research extends these findings by showing that the regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa can lead to improved blood flow in menopausal women with elevated cholesterol, as well as reporting for the first time that the increase in blood flow following flavanol-rich cocoa consumption can also be observed in the brain.

"The totality of this research is impressive and gives us new insights into how cocoa flavanols may improve health in a variety of ways not previously known," said Harold Schmitz, PhD, Chief Science Officer of Mars, Incorporated, which has conducted and supported a majority of the research on cocoa flavanols and health for more than 15 years. "This publication, resulting from the science presented at an international meeting convened last year in Lucerne, Switzerland, is exciting as it adds to the growing body of scientific research demonstrating that the consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa can potentially lead to a range of physiological benefits resulting from improved blood flow."

Researchers studied the effects of cocoa flavanols in vitro (test tube) and in human subjects, on various age groups, on women and men in order to better understand the potential benefits of these natural food compounds. Among the new studies, the highlights include:

  • Brain blood flow in the elderly and young adults: Two independent studies, one in a healthy elderly population and another in young healthy women, demonstrate that the consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa can increase blood flow to the brain. This work, the first of its kind with cocoa, suggests that this cocoa may have promising effects on cognitive performance
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