The benefits of chocolate in cardiovascular health have long been considered since an observational study in Panama found that an indigenous people who drank salt–enriched cocoa daily suffered fewer age–related increases in blood pressure. Since then, epidemiological studies have reported a decrease in certain cardiometabolic disorders in individuals who consume moderate amounts of cocoa. The compounds responsible for the benefits of cocoa are thought to be flavonoid epicatechin monomers, which exert both an antioxidant effect as well as lead to upregulation of nitric oxide (NO) to promote vasodilation. Animal studies have also shown that cardiovascular disease (CVD) progression is significantly reduced with cocoa consumption. Although many of these studies possess limitations, including small sample sizes and incomplete blinding, the data nevertheless suggest that cocoa consumption can reduce the risk of certain cardiometabolic disorders.
KEYWORDS: flavanoids; cardiovascular health; chocolate; cocoa benefits; preventative health
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Milbers K. Food of the Gods: The Role of Chocolate in Cardiovascular Health. UBCMJ. 2012 3(2):19-22.