Cacao beans are extensively popular fruit seeds due to their high phenolic and flavanol content. More than 200 chemical compounds (cocoa flavanols) have been identified in cacao beans. Cocoa flavanols offer certain health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, preventing blood clots, and improving blood flow. A recent study has reported that long-term cocoa flavanol supplementation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
Cardiovascular Diseases - Introduction
CVDs are a group of heart and vascular system diseases that results in the narrowing of the blood vessels supplying blood throughout the body. It is one of the prominent causes of death in the United States.
Every year about 1 million Americans die due to cardiovascular problems.
Physical inactivity is one of the prominent reasons which increases the risk of CVDs.
Besides physical inactivity, other risk factors include obesity, smoking, and alcohol intake.
The risk of CVDs can be reduced by making small lifestyle changes.
A healthy diet and exercise regimen is the most effective change for preventing this disease.
Exercise decreases unwanted fat and cholesterol, thereby eliminating the strain on the heart.
A nutritious diet with low sugar content and appropriate servings of fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, lean meats, and whole grains can reduce the risk of CVDs.
Health Benefits Of Cocoa Flavanols - The Study
Recently a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that long-term consumption of cocoa flavanol could reduce the risk of CVDs.
Nearly 21,442 participants were included in the study and were followed for approximately 3.6 years.
The participants were divided into four groups:
- The first group received capsules containing 500 mg cocoa flavanol.
- The second group received multivitamin tablets.
- The third group received neither of the supplements.
- The fourth group received both the supplements.
- The participants who received cocoa flavanol capsules showed a 27% reduced risk of death due to CVDs.
- The participants who received the cocoa flavanol supplements regularly had a 15% reduction in total cardiovascular events and a 39% reduction in cardiovascular deaths.
- The participants who received multivitamin tablets had no significant effect on cardiovascular events.
Cardiovascular events refer to conditions including heart attack, stroke, unstable angina, carotid artery disease, and coronary revascularization.
The study bears clinical evidence that cocoa flavanol intervention can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and deaths due to CVDs.
The study also suggested that the supplementation must be regular and long-term to achieve the extensive health benefits of cocoa flavanol.
- CVDs are a group of heart and blood vessels disorders. They are a significant cause of death globally.
- Cacao extracts are being explored for their role in CVD prevention. The bioactive components present in the cacao plants are used for various purposes due to their texture, taste, and health properties.
- A recent study has reported that long-term supplementation with cocoa flavanol can reduce the risk of CVDs.
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