cocoaCocoa is known mostly for being the most important ingredient for dark chocolate, and many of us being well aware that dark chocolate is a rich natural source of antioxidants have an idea about potential heart benefits of cocoa. Dark chocolate if consumed in moderate amounts of 30-40 grams a day is associated with better cardiovascular health, especially in women. And modern scientists are currently working on understanding the causes and mechanisms of dark chocolate being so beneficial for heart.

It is believed and scientifically proven that heart benefits of cocoa take source from a rich content of polyphenol antioxidants like procyanidins or catechins that play an important role for protecting our cells from excessive oxidation and assist in controlling blood pressure. Health benefits of cocoa and polyphenols (in particular, heart benefits of flavonoids) have been widely discussed in scientific circles recently. There were numerous studies and researches attempting to analyze potential health benefits of cocoa.  For example, a group of British specialists the University of Reading found out that cocoa products have great effects on the microflora in human intestines and may possible have good prebiotic effects.

Being back to heart benefits of cocoa: a couple of years ago Japanese scientists reported that a regular consumption of cocoa can play a role in LDL (bad) cholesterol lowering. A group of specialists from Meiji Seika Kaisha Ltd and Ochanomizu University carried out an experiment during which 160 adult participants with normal or increased levels of bad cholesterol were receiving either natural cocoa powder or placebo compounds.heart benefits of cocoa In 4 weeks the participants from both groups demonstrated a tremendous decrease in bad cholesterol levels, and the effects were especially significant for those who had increased levels of bad cholesterol before the scientific experiments. The findings were published in Journal of Nutrition, Vol 137.

Now, the scientists at the Food and Health R&D Laboratories at Meiji Seika Kaisha revealed the results of their recent work. They were trying to understand the mechanisms which makes polyphenols in cocoa regulate cholesterol-relate processes in our body. It was found out that antioxidant compounds in cocoa can increase the activity of proteins called SRBEPs (sterol regulatory element binding proteins), which are indirectly responsible for both for LDL “bad” and HDL “good” cholesterol production.

At that, these polyphenols act as a regulating factor for increasing “good” cholesterol production and limiting “bad” cholesterol production. The scientists reported: “As cholesterol metabolism is known to be regulated by several different mechanisms, it is possible that cacao polyphenols may act on multiple pathways as a regulatory receptor agonist or ligand, similar to other plant polyphenols.” Find more of specific information and the comments on these interesting findings in the last month’s issue of issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry which is published by the American Chemical Society.

Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.

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