Research has shown that compounds found in cocoa can help promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and increasing blood vessel flexibility. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these compounds, called flavanols and procyanidins, work both together and separately. They are also found in apples, grapes, berries, cereals, and legumes.
In a small study, an international team of researchers divided 45 healthy men into three groups. Once per day for one month, the first group took a cocoa extract containing 130 mg of a flavanol and 560 mg of procyanidins; the second group took a cocoa extract containing 20 mg of a flavanol and 540 mg of procyanidins; and the third group took placebo capsules that didn’t contain flavanols or procyanidins.
Participants in the first group were the only ones to experience both short-term benefits like improved blood vessel dilation and long-term benefits like lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Study participants in groups one and two — those taking procyanidins — experienced lower cholesterol levels by the end of the study period. Researchers from Mars, Inc., were involved in this study.
Sourced from: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition