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Is chocolate good for heart health? FDA probably says if it’s high in cocoa flavanols: shots

Cocoa contains compounds called flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Kevin Delcroix/Getty Images

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Kevin Delcroix/Getty Images

Cocoa contains compounds called flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Kevin Delcroix/Getty Images

Chocolate has a lot of mysteries.For centuries, cocoa Aphrodisiac and health elixir. Mayans also used cocoa as cash and buried their nobility with it. They apparently believed that they “helped people enter and survive in the afterlife”. Ethnobotanist Nat Bletter and a chocolate maker.

as the myth has evolved Thousands of years of cacao food history, So does the scientific quest to understand how it happens. affect our healthCacao contains many antioxidant bioactive compounds called flavanols. anti-inflammatory propertiesIn recent years, research has shown flavanols found in canned cocoa. Helps improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

2018, a company that manufactures chocolate and cocoa products, Barry Callebaut AG Switzerland, Noting the link between consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, we petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow the use of health claims on labels. After a positive review, FDA has responded.

In early February, authorities gave the green light to use certain limited health claims on products made with high-flavanol cocoa powder. says there isn’t enough evidence to back up its claims about regular chocolate.

for example, universe More than 20,000 men and women aged 60 and older participated in the trial. Participants in this study agreed to take 500 milligrams of cocoa flavanols daily in capsule form for several years to test whether they help reduce the risk of heart disease. Because it was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, participants did not know whether they were receiving cocoa flavanols or a placebo.

“We saw encouraging signs for the prevention of cardiovascular events,” he explains. Dr. Joan Manson He is a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s authors.Overall, there was no statistically significant reduction in heart attack or stroke among participants taking cocoa supplements, but the number of participants who died from heart disease was small. actually 27% reduction Mortality from cardiovascular disease is high,” said Manson.This research It was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Last summer, researchers hope to replicate the findings in ongoing studies.

Scientists focused on a specific mechanism that might help explain how chocolate affects the cardiovascular system. can nitric oxide, is the gas that widens and dilates our blood vessels. “Vasodilation is a mechanism that lowers blood pressure and appears to signal a reduction in cardiovascular events,” says Manson.

But in bad news for chocolate addicts, candy bars contain sugar, fat and calories, so these findings shouldn’t be interpreted as encouraging you to eat more chocolate, she said. says. Women’s Health Initiative “We found that eating chocolate several times a week, with just regular chocolate treats, led to weight gain,” says Manson.Excess weight is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

So where does it leave us, the chocolate-loving masses?

Despite dozens of published studies evaluating links between chocolate and health, the FDA’s assessment is currently inconclusive, and the science is still inconclusive. Obviously, consuming highly processed and sweetened chocolate candy bars may not get you enough.

Perhaps this is why the newly approved health claims are so limited and confusing. Here is an example: “Cocoa flavanols in high-flavanol cocoa powder may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but the FDA has concluded that there is very limited scientific evidence for this claim..”

“How do consumers interpret thewhat? asks the nutritionist Christopher Gardner Professor at Stanford University. He says such health claims are unlikely to help.

One challenge is that it’s nearly impossible to conduct studies that can prove whether a certain amount of chocolate reduces heart disease. First, scientists would need to recruit thousands of people, half of whom would agree to eat chocolate every day for years. “Who will sign up for it?” Gardner asks.

So far, when people ask him if chocolate is healthy for him, his answer is “compared to what?” If you decide between jelly beans and dark chocolate, dark chocolate is better, he says, given the flavanols. As a chocolate lover, his view is that it’s good to savor small amounts slowly.

Some manufacturers have started marketing chocolate products that are high in flavanols, with as much as 200 mg per serving. FDA requires cocoa products to have at least 4% Naturally Preserved Cocoa FlavanolsBut these chocolates might work more bitter taste than most of us usually enjoy.

in Europe, Chocolate maker Barry Callebaut, The company, which has petitioned the FDA, has already been allowed to use health claims in its dark chocolate products that cocoa flavanols have a positive effect on blood flow. The company calls the FDA’s action in the US a “major milestone” in the development of cocoa as an ingredient that can be blended or added to various products. “This provides an opportunity to develop and enhance wholesome products utilizing high-flavanol cocoa powders, especially in the (sports) beverage and protein mix categories,” said Barry Callebaut, Vice President, Cocoa North America. As Hugo van der Goos puts it: in a statement.Callebaut already cocoa powder The company says it qualifies for the new health claims.

Some chocolate lovers may object to the idea of ​​a cocoa-infused sports drink. madre chocolate Some chocolate lovers are more concerned with the health benefits, while others are more concerned with the taste. He likes to help his customers use all their senses when eating chocolate to get the most out of every bite. “You can’t just taste it,” says Bletter. “You can smell it even before you put it in your mouth.” And you don’t have to chew it right away. “Let it melt on your tongue and see if you get all the different flavors,” he says.

Much like wine, chocolate has many unique and interesting flavors to try.

“People need to have fun and enjoy it,” says Gardner, not to get too hung up on the basis of health claims or the evidence to the contrary.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/02/12/1156044919/chocolate-heart-health-flavanols Is chocolate good for heart health? FDA probably says if it’s high in cocoa flavanols: shots

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