J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006;47 Suppl 2:S197-205; discussion S206-9, Heptinstall S1, May J, Fox S, Kwik-Uribe C, Zhao L.
There is growing interest in possible beneficial effects of specific dietary components on cardiovascular health. Platelets and leukocytes contribute to arterial thrombosis and to inflammatory processes. Previous studies performed in vitro have demonstrated inhibition of platelet function by (-)-epicatechins and (+)-Catechin, flavan-3-ols (flavanols) that are present in several foods including some cocoas. Also, some modest inhibition of platelet function has been observed ex vivo after the consumption of flavanol-containing cocoa products by healthy adults. So far there are no reports of effects of cocoa flavanols on leukocytes. This paper summarizes 2 recent investigations.
Studies Show Cocoa Flavanols Can Prevent Chronic Diseases Chocolate is a food as rich in history as it is in taste. Packed with polyphenols, cocoa has been used by indigenous peoples to improve health for thousands of years. Ancient societies revered the cocoa bean for its sustaining and health-affirming qualities.1 In all, more than 100 medicinal uses of cacao are listed in ancient codex in which Specific benefits were noted including alleviating ‘faint of heart,’ reducing angina, generating blood, relieving heart palpitations and even prolonging life. After chocolate’s journey from Central America to Europe, much of its connection to health was lost when Europeans created a more indulgent chocolate treat by adding milk and sugar.
The Kuna Indians provide a modern day example of this ancient effect. The Kuna live off the coast of Panama on the San Blas Islands. Their traditional diet is high in sodium yet they show little to no rise in blood pressure with age.2 When they migrate to other areas, however, their blood pressure rises with age similar to other populations. When in their indigenous villages, the Kuna drink an average of five cups of a cocoa-based beverage per day. This phenomena intrigued researchers.
Aspirin-like’ effects: Low-dose aspirin therapy is often prescribed for cardiovascular disease patients because it reduces the production of prostaglandins involved in inflammation. An experiment was thus designed to compare cocoa and low-dose aspirin administration. Measures of platelet functions were measured for low dose (baby) aspirin, 300ml (~10oz) of cocoa beverage and a combination of the two.
The cocoa treatment demonstrated an inhibitory effect on platelet activation and function. The effect from the cocoa beverage was slightly less than the baby aspirin treatment, while the combination produced slightly better results, especially related to micro particle formation