|Not chocolate, it’s cocoaMary Wagner, chief technology officer for Mars Botanical, a scientific division of
Mars Inc, recently told NutraIngredients that the benefits of the bean revolve around the flavanols (also known as flavan-3-ols or catechins), and particularly the monomeric flavanol (-)epicatechin.
The Australian researchers recruited 32 men and 20 postmenopausal women with untreated mild hypertension, defined as blood pressure between 130/ 85 and 160/100 mmHg. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive one of four doses of a cocoa flavanol-rich beverage for six weeks in a double-blind, parallel comparison. The doses used by the researchers were 33, 372, 712 or 1052 mg per day of flavanols.
“This study supports the potential for cocoa flavanols to lower blood pressure, but further research is required to determine the extent of antihypertensive benefit that can be achieved with different dietary sources and doses of flavanols in various cardiovascular pathologies,”
concluded the researchers.
It’s all about the polyphenols
A recent review in the British Journal of Nutrition, led by Gary Williamson from Leeds University, UK (and formerly at the Nestlé Research Center), noted:
“Chocolate is predominantly a food for pleasure, and many people incorporate it into part of a healthy, varied and balanced diet. However, there is controversy over whether it should be recommended for its health benefits.”
“The polyphenol content is of more importance and it is essential that, in future, all published trials give a full characterisation of the chocolate or cocoa used and the calculated dose. This characterisation should include a breakdown of the types of polyphenols, especially monomer content.”
Source: Journal of Hypertension
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1038/jhh.2009.105
“Dose-related effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on blood pressure”
Authors: K. Davison, N.M. Berry, G. Misan, A.M. Coates, J.D. Buckley, P.R.C. Howe
Read the full article here