For hundreds of years, chocolate has been savored as a delicious indulgence by people all around the world. Indeed, today the average American consumes between 10 and 12 pounds of chocolate per year. Of course, chocolate is usually thought of as a sugary treat and therefore lacking in any real health benefits, but after years of research many health professionals now promote the consumption of small amounts of chocolate.
In fact, our Cardiac Monitoring Service team was thrilled to read a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition from researchers at Brown University confirming evidence that certain compounds found in cocoa are beneficial to your cardiovascular health. After analyzing information from carefully controlled trials of over 1,100 participants, researchers found that compounds in cocoa, known to scientists as flavanols, improved cholesterol levels and the volunteers’ sensitivity to insulin.
Dr. Simin Liu, a co-author of the study and director of the Center for Global Cardiometabolic Health at Brown University, said in a statement, “We found that intake of cocoa flavanols may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, all of which are major risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases.”
Whether the volunteers consumed flavanols through powdered cocoa beverages or through dark chocolate made no difference on the results. However, lead author Xiaochen Lin warned that the same results could not be confirmed with white chocolate or popular chocolate candies because the content of food additives and sugar could be much higher than that of dark chocolate.
Unfortunately, not all of volunteers saw a positive impact in their targeted biomarkers, but researchers say in general there were statistically significant improvements— especially in those who ate 200 to 600 milligrams of cocoa flavanols a day. However, even in participants given smaller amounts researchers found a significant increase in good cholesterol, an improvement that was not seen in volunteers that consumed higher doses. Even further, the volunteers that ingested the highest doses saw a positive effect on their insulin resistance and a drop in triglycerides, which are involved in storing body fat.
Although the study used short trial times and did not directly compare the effect cocoa’s flavanols had on reducing heart attacks or diabetes, Brown University’s research team believes that the initial success may be the first step to a larger, more detailed clinical trial.
For years, there have been several widely held beliefs about the benefits of cocoa products, especially dark chocolate. It has been linked to lower blood pressure and body weight, and others believe it acts as an anti-inflammatory, an appetite regulator, and even a cure for infertility. Despite these claims, the only scientifically proven links found so far are related to lower blood pressure and heart health.
As a leading provider of holter monitors, our team at Cardiac Monitoring Service is always happy to share new information regarding heart health. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help you better serve your patients and increase your revenue, all at no cost to you.