Brain, cardiovascular benefits from cocoa

July 26, 2006 at 12:03 PM
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HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., July 26 (UPI) -- A team of U.S. and German researchers finds that flavanol-rich cocoa has circulatory health benefits including brain and cardiovascular blood-flow improvement.

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, according to the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, in a supplement that focuses on the potential health benefits of flavanol-rich cocoa.

The scientists found that the regular consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa resulted in a significant increase in blood flow in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women, suggesting that this cocoa may improve vascular function in this population with higher cardiovascular risk.

In addition, researchers coupled studies of platelet function in humans with in vitro studies with highly purified flavanols from cocoa. The results of these studies support that cocoa flavanols may have beneficial effects on platelets and that certain flavanols and flavanol-rich cocoa itself may also reduce the cascade of events that can lead to vascular damage.

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