Become a chocoholic… Chocolate and Heart Failure

English: Dark chocolate. Español: Chocolate negro.
Flavanol Cocoa Rich Dark Chocolate

Now remember don’t over do it! Please note the important point at the bottom which is highlighted… Eating flavanol rich or dark chocolate for a short term may help patients with congestive heart failure, according to a new study in the European Heart Journal.  But the effect from long term consumption of flavanol-rich chocolate remains unknown.

The study led by Andreas J. Flammer of Cardiovascular Center, Cardiology University Hospital Zurich in Zurich CH-8091, Switzerland and colleagues showed flow-mediated vasodilatation significantly improved after four weeks of daily intake of high flavanol chocolate.  The effect was sustained for 12 hours.
In the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, twenty patients with congestive heart failure were assigned to receive two chocolate bars per day, either with high flavanol or dark chocolate or control chocolate with no cocoa liquor.
Endothelial and platelet function was measured two hours after ingestion of two chocolate bars and after 4 weeks of consumption of two chocolate bars per day.
It was found that two hours after ingestion of chocolate bars, flow-mediated vasodilatation significantly improved from 4.98 to 5.98 % in those eating the high flavanol chocolate, compared to those eating the chocolate without cocoa liquor, which is the source of flavanol.  At four weeks of supplementation with two bars a day, those eating the high flavanol chocolate had flow-mediated vasodilatation increased from 4.98 to 6.86%, compared to those eating no flavanol chocolate.
But no effect on endothelial-independent vasodilatation was observed even in those who ate flavanol rich chocolate or dark chocolate while platelet adhesion significantly decreased from 3.9 to 3.0 % in the study group as measured at two hours after ingestion of high flavanol chocolate, compared to the control group. The effect was not sustained at 2 and 4 weeks.
Cocoa-liquor-free chocolate rendered no effect, either on endothelial function nor on platelet function. Either type of chocolate had any effect on blood pressure and heart rate.
The researchers concluded “Flavanol-rich chocolate acutely improves vascular function in patients with CHF (congestive heart failure). A sustained effect was seen after daily consumption over a 4-week period, even after 12 h abstinence. These beneficial effects were paralleled by an inhibition of platelet function in the presence of FRC (flavanol rich chocolate) only.”
Flavanol rich chocolate is the dark chocolate with at least 35% cocoa in it.  Milk chocolate does not contain cocoa.  Evidence is strong that cocoa, but not fat and sugar in dark chocolate can render a heart protective effect.
It should be noted that the study did not monitor the participants for their weight gain.  This is a relatively short term study.  When a person uses chocolate at a dose of two bars per day, it is possible that he will gain weight because of high fat and high sugar in chocolate, which could offset the benefit of flavanols.  And it could be even worse for congestive heart failure patients because of their condition.
The best way to have the benefits of dark chocolate without having any concern about weight gain, is to use cocoa directly.
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