Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Health Benefits of Cocoa

Cocoa, used throughout history as a folk medicine, may actually have significant health benefits, according to a new study by Harvard researchers. Analysis by researchers at Harvard Medical School reviewed 21 studies with 2,575 participants shows that cocoa consumption is associated with decreased blood pressure, improvement in cholesterol levels and improved blood vessel health.

In addition to these benefits, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa decreased “bad” LDL cholesterol among people under age 50 and increased good HDL cholesterol. Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption also was linked to reductions in risk factors for diabetes -- a major risk factor itself for cardiovascular disease. Finally, resistance to the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar, favorably dropped among people who consumed flavonoid-rich cocoa, compared to people in comparison groups.

Further, consumption of flavonoid-rich cocoa did not change triglyceride levels of study participants or make them obese. Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that have been linked to coronary artery disease when levels are elevated above normal.

Up until now the prior studies analyzed were short-term research projects using primarily sugar-free, dark chocolate.The Harvard researchers say more research is needed to determine the risk-benefit effect on the heart health of eating commercially available chocolate. Future research will look at the dosage necessary to reduce heart attacks and strokes.

And for more information on healthy living, or to schedule a consultation for physical therapy, feel free to contact us at 518-690-4406 or visit our website at or email us at

Brendan Sullivan, PT, CSCS

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