New studies by the EU-funded FLAVIOLA research consortium show that cocoa flavanols could help maintain cardiovascular health as we age
Dusseldorf, Germany (September 9, 2015) – Two recently published studies in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN), as a part of the FLAVIOLA project, demonstrate that consuming cocoa flavanols improves cardiovascular function and lessens the burden on the heart that comes with the ageing and stiffening of arteries. The studies also provide novel data to indicate that intake of cocoa flavanols reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Cocoa flavanols are plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean. Earlier studies have demonstrated that cocoa flavanol intake improves the elasticity of blood vessels and lowers blood pressure — but, for the most part, these investigations have focused on high-risk individuals like smokers and people that have already been diagnosed with conditions like hypertension and coronary heart disease.
These two studies in Age and BJN are novel as they are the first to look at the different effects dietary cocoa flavanols can have on the blood vessels of healthy, low-risk individuals with no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease. The combined results of these studies demonstrate that flavanols are effective at decreasing age-related changes in blood vessels, and thereby reduce the risk of CVD, in healthy individuals.
- Age Study: Vasodilation was significantly improved in both young and older men after two weeks of twice daily cocoa flavanol consumption.
- BJN Study: Over the course of one month, twice daily consumption of cocoa flavanols improved blood cholesterol profile, blood pressure, and vasodilation.
FLAVIOLA is a pan-European research project, funded under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission. The project aims to provide crucial insights into the nutritional and biomedical properties of flavanols ranging from the cellular level to their impact on the population at large. FLAVIOLA’s vision is that through collaborative and cutting-edge research, it will lay the foundation for the development of evidence-based dietary recommendations and innovative food products that harness the benefits of flavanols for cardiovascular health. FLAVIOLA members include Heinrich-Heine University (Germany), University of Reading (UK), Maastricht University (Netherlands), INRA French National Institute for Agricultural Research (France), Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), Ghent University (Belgium), SciProm (Switzerland) and Mars, Incorporated.