Reposted from www.nutraceuticalsworld.com
Two recent systematic reviews laud cocoa for its contributions to blood vessel health and to the reduction of diabetes risk factors.
By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor
Published October 25, 2012
“Diabetes prevention is also key to preventing kidney problems, blindness and related nerve damage—all major side effects of diabetes,” he continued. “Interestingly, erectile dysfunction is also fundamentally a circulation problem—Viagra is also shown to improve flow-mediated dilation, similar to cocoa.”
The second review, published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, also focused on cocoa flavonoids, this time to determine the effect of flavanol-rich chocolate on blood pressure in people with or without hypertension. To that end, the research team honed in on the ability of cocoa flavanols to “increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and therefore blood pressure reduction,” on the premise that previous meta-analyses have shown that cocoa-rich foods had the ability to reduce blood pressure.
In their meta-analyses of 20 studies involving 856 mainly healthy participants, researchers found a “statistically significant blood pressure reducing effect of flavanol-rich cocoa products” when compared with control groups.
They concluded that flavanol-rich chocolate and cocoa products may have a small but statistically significant effect in the short term lowering blood pressure. “Subgroup meta-analysis of trials using a flavanol-free control group revealed a significant blood pressure reducing effect of cocoa, whereas analysis of trials using a low-flavanol control product did not,” they wrote.
The researchers acknowledged that shorter trials spanning two weeks proved more effective, though their analysis may have been confounded by the type of control and “unblinding of participants, as the majority of 2-week trials also used a flavanol-free control and unblinding of participants.”
The researchers also stated that long-term trials investigating the effect of cocoa products are warranted in an effort to “determine whether or not blood pressure is reduced on a chronic basis by daily ingestion of cocoa. Furthermore, long-term trials investigating the effect of cocoa on clinical outcomes are also needed to assess whether cocoa has an effect on cardiovascular events and to assess potential adverse effects associated with chronic ingestion of cocoa products.”