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Cocoa Flavanols May Help Improve Vascular Function During Stress

Previous research has suggested that mental stress may increase the risk of vascular dysfunction and the development of hypertension and atherosclerosis. A new study has found that consuming a cocoa drink that is high in flavanols may help improve vascular function during mental stress.

Thirty healthy males with an average age of 32 participated in the study. They consumed a high flavanol cocoa beverage (681.4 mg) on one occasion and a low flavanol cocoa beverage (4.1 mg) on another occasion. Mental stress was elicited using the 8 min Paced-Auditory-Serial-Addition-Task. Forearm blood flow, blood pressure, heart rate, and flow-mediated dilation were measured before consumption, 30 minutes post stress test, and 90 minutes post stress test.

Blood vessel function (flow-mediated dilation) was less impaired when the participants consumed the high flavanol cocoa beverage compared to the low flavanol cocoa beverage. In addition, forearm blood flow was improved after consuming the high flavanol cocoa beverage, both at rest and during stress.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham. It was published online ahead of print on March 27, 2021 in the journal Nutrients.

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