Chocolate And Prevention Of Cardiovascular Disease
Scientists have maintained for a long time that that dark chocolate has the same type of potent antioxidant and flavonoids as blueberries, green tea, and red wine. Their studies have shown that flavonoids improve cardiovascular health and in fact may lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
In a recent study published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers reviewed English-language MEDLINE publications from 1966 through January 2005 for experimental, observational, and clinical studies of relations between cocoa, cacao, chocolate, stearic acid, flavonoids (including flavonols, flavanols, catechins, epicatechins, and procynadins) and the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease and stroke. A total of 136 publications were selected based on relevance, and quality of design and methods. An updated meta-analysis of flavonoid intake and CHD mortality was also conducted.
The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests that cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation. Additionally, a large body of trials of stearic acid suggested it is indeed cholesterol-neutral. However, epidemiologic studies of serum and dietary stearic acid are inconclusive due to many methodologic limitations. Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests that the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality. The updated meta-analysis indicates that intake of flavonoids may lower risk of CHD mortality, RR = 0.81 (95% CI: 0.71–0.92) comparing highest and lowest tertiles.
The conclusion of the article is that multiple lines of evidence from laboratory experiments and randomized trials suggest stearic acid may be neutral, while flavonoids are likely protective against CHD mortality. The highest priority now is to conduct larger randomized trials to definitively investigate the impact of chocolate consumption on long-term cardiovascular outcomes.
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