AHA: Flavonoid-Rich Cocoa May Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

Flavonoids tied to lower systolic blood pressure, higher brachial artery flow-mediated dilation

FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- Consuming flavonoid-rich cocoa may reduce cardiovascular risk, according to a meta-analysis presented at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions, held from March 22 to 25 in Atlanta.

Scott R. Bauer, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the effect and dose-response relationship of flavonoid-rich cocoa on cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. A total of 21 randomized trials comprising 2,575 participants were included in the analysis.

The investigators found that the consumption of cocoa flavonoids was associated with a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (̶2.91 mm Hg), and a 1.48 percent increase in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation. Flavonoid-rich cocoa intake correlated significantly with decreased insulin resistance, and an increased Insulin Sensitivity Index, but it did not affect fasting blood glucose and body mass index (BMI). A modest decrease was seen in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (P = 0.07), and total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol remained unchanged. Younger patients (average age less than 50 years) also experienced a decrease in triglycerides.

"The consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa was overall favorable for cardiovascular risk, notably in improving blood pressure, insulin resistance, insulin sensitivity, flow-mediated vascular dilation, and possibly LDL, without adverse effects on fasting glucose or BMI," the authors write.

Abstract No. MP005
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