Navigation Links
Heart-healthy compound in chocolate identified

In a multifaceted study involving the Kuna Indians of Panama, an international team of scientists has pinpointed a chemical compound that is, in part, responsible, for the heart-healthy benefits of certain cocoas and some chocolate products.

The researchers, who are from the University of California, Davis; the Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf, Germany; and Harvard Medical School, hope the findings will lead to new dietary or medicinal methods for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health.

The study showed that epicatechin, one of a group of chemicals known as flavanols, was directly linked to improved circulation and other hallmarks of cardiovascular health. Findings of the study are reported in the Jan. 16 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Although previous studies strongly indicated that some flavanol-rich foods, such as wine, tea and cocoa can offer cardiovascular health benefits, we have been able to demonstrate a direct relationship between the intake of certain flavanols present in cocoa, their absorption into the circulation and their effects on cardiovascular function in humans," said UC Davis biochemist Hagen Schroeter, who co-authored the paper along with cardiologist Christian Heiss of the Heinrich-Heine University.

"The results of this study provide direct proof that epicatechin is, at least in part, responsible for the beneficial vascular effects that are observed after the consumption of certain flavanol-rich cocoas," Schroeter said.

Key to the study were volunteers from the Kuna Indians, who live on the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama. High blood pressure and other signs of cardiovascular disease are rare among the island-dwelling Kuna, who are also known to consume large amounts of flavanol-rich cocoa -- three to four cups per day. However, previous studies carried out by Norman Hollenberg's research team at Harvard Medical School have found that Kuna w ho have migrated to the suburbs of Panama City on the mainland consume only about four cups of cocoa per week and, interestingly, do not enjoy the same level of cardiovascular health.

Through analyses of urine samples from members of both the island-dwelling and mainland Kuna, the researchers found that, compared to their mainland counterparts, the urine of island dwellers had more than twice the levels of urinary nitric oxide -- a chemical compound already known to be associated with healthy flow of blood through the arteries.

The Kuna project was only one part of a five-pronged study approach that the research team conducted in order to determine whether epicatechin meets five previously established criteria for compounds that directly cause improved circulation. In the other four parts of the study the researchers demonstrated that:

  • Levels of nitric oxide in the blood were higher in individuals who drank flavanol-rich cocoa, compared to those who drank cocoa beverages with low flavanol levels. This showed that flavanols contained in the cocoa were actually absorbed and subsequently present in the bloodstream.
  • Higher levels of the flavanol epicatechin in the bloodstream were accompanied by improved blood flow.
  • In the laboratory, flavanols administered to samples of vascular tissue caused the tissue to relax.
  • Pure epicatechin consumed by humans had much the same effect as did consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa.

Considered together, these findings point to epicatechin as one of the compounds found in cocoa that has beneficial impacts on cardiovascular health.


Source:University of California - Davis

Related biology news :

1. Researchers discover chemical compounds that affect plant growth
2. Bacterial genome sheds light on synthesizing cancer-fighting compounds
3. Scientists discover the bodys marijuana-like compounds are crucial for stress-induced pain relief
4. Evolution of taste receptor may have shaped human sensitivity to toxic compounds
5. Novel compounds show promise as safer, more potent insecticides
6. Metal-containing compounds show promise as HIV weapon
7. Natural compound from pond scum shows potential activity against Alzheimers
8. Chemical compound inhibits tumor growth, size in new mouse study
9. Seaweed yields new compounds with pharmaceutical potential
10. Phenolic compounds may explain Mediterranean diet benefits
11. UC Berkeley researchers create a biologically-inspired artificial compound eye
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/16/2015)... SAN JOSE, Calif. , Nov 16, 2015 ... leading developer of human interface solutions, today announced ... new Synaptics TouchView ™ touch controller and ... the architectural revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI ... and include TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), ...
(Date:11/11/2015)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical technology ... pleased to announce that it will be a Sponsor of ... to be held November 17-19 in Hamburg ... of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, proven and ... has been able to deliver time and cost savings of ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. ... interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the automotive ... solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics human ... biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry and ... Europe , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... The United States Golf Association ... 2016 USGA Green Section Award. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award ... work with turfgrass. , Clarke, of Iselin, N.J., is an extension specialist ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ... New York on Wednesday, December 2 at ... , president and CEO, will provide a corporate overview. ... at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . ... will provide a corporate overview. --> th Annual ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Copper is an essential micronutrient that all ... copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million award from the ... a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa), a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS) (TSX: AEZ) (the "Company"), ... Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that as of the date ... that would cause the recent movements in the Company,s ... About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. . ... Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing ...
Breaking Biology Technology: