Cocoa Fiber Shows Heart Health Potential
Cocoa has been gaining widespread attention for its apparent health benefits and research is now showing that a fiber made from cocoa husks may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.
These new findings were published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
For the study, researchers from Universidad Complutense in Madrid randomly divided 20 hypertensive rats into two groups. For seven weeks, one group was given tap water and the other group was given a solution containing .75 mg of a soluble cocoa fiber product (SCFP.)
The rats given the SCFP saw improvements in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by the end of the study. The researchers also observed reductions in known oxidative stress markers among the SCFP group.
All of the rats in the study were given tap water for four weeks following the supplementation period. The rats in the supplementation group saw an increase in blood pressure when they were taken off the SCFP.
Further studies will help elucidate the mechanisms behind the potentially anti-hypertensive effects of cocoa fiber and determine possible medical applications.
The health benefits associated with cocoa continue to gain more scientific support and much of this research attributes the benefits to antioxidants in cocoa called flavonoids.
These powerful antioxidants have been shown to decrease inflammation and improve heart and brain health by increasing blood flow.
Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa, but be careful because as we all know, it is very easy to eat a little too much chocolate. Due to the high saturated fat content of chocolate, eating much more than 1 serving daily (20g) can easily cancel out any of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.