“Consuming cocoa flavanols lowers blood pressure, increases flow-mediated vasodilation and improves blood cholesterol profile. Applying the Framingham risk score suggests that cocoa flavanols might therefore be able to reduce age-related risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.”
Two recently published studies in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) demonstrate that consuming cocoa flavanols improves cardiovascular function and lessens the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries.
Flavanols are shown to increase blood vessel fexibilty and to lower blood pressure, helping to fight against areterial stiffness and blood vessel dysfunction, both of which are linked to cardiovascular disease.
The studies found that vasodilation, the dilatation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure, was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). In the older age group there was a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure. A systolic blood pressure number of 140 or higher, is considered to be hypertension, or high blood pressure.
So whats a flavanol?
A flavanol is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in plant-based foods, including tea, apples, grapes and red wine. Cocoa beans are one plant that contains a significant amount of these compounds. Similiar to antioxidants, flavanols promote health by helping the body to deal with the presence of free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd number of electrons. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction. Flavanols help to block the free radicals ability to trigger the negative changes within the bodies chemistry.