Could the hot cup of cocoa that livens up your day be good
for your heart? Well, some researchers
believe so where as others disagree.
suggest that cocoa intake protects the inner lining of the blood vessels and
prevents the formation of plaques.
Plaques tend to stiffen the arteries.
They could also narrow and block the blood vessels. The protective effect of cocoa could possibly
be attributed to its antioxidant property.
Cocoa is rich in flavanols that protect the blood vessels. Unfortunately, a lot of the flavanols
are destroyed during processing of cocoa, thus neutralizing the beneficial
A recently published study assessed the protective effect of
cocoa on blood vessels in 351subjects.
These individuals also had conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes
or high lipid levels, which increase the risk for developing heart disease.
Information regarding cocoa intake was obtained through a questionnaire. People taking ≤1serving/week were considered
as low cocoa consumers whereas those taking more than 1 serving per week were
referred to as high consumers.
related to the heart and blood vessels were measured. These included central and peripheral blood
pressure, central and peripheral augmentation index, pulse wave velocity,
ambulatory arterial stiffness index, carotidintima-media thickness, and
More number of males
reported high cocoa consumption in the study. However, it was found that cocoa
intake did not affect arterial stiffness or blood pressure measurements in these
The study however did
not take into consideration the flavanol content of the cocoa; thus further
studies may be required to establish the benefit of cocoa with high flavanol
content in people at a risk for heart disease.
1. Jose I Recio-rodriguez et al. Cocoa intake and arterial stiffness in subjects with cardiovascular riskfactors. Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:8doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-8.