Cocoa Flavanol Heart Health Study

British Journal of Nutrition, 114(8), 1246-1255 (2015)

Heart Health Study

Study Details


• A leading German University conducted a study to test whether cocoa flavanols could help maintain cardiovascular health in people with no history of heart disease, after previous studies had demonstrated benefits for at-risk populations.

•  Healthy people between the ages of 35 and 60 consumed about 400 mg of cocoa flavanols twice daily for a month.* A similar group of people took a placebo acting as the control group.

• The 2 groups were compared before and after the study to see if taking cocoa flavanols every day had an impact on heart health

The Results

Healthier Blood Vessels

21% increase in blood vessel health when taking cocoa flavanols daily for a month

Healthier Blood Pressure

Taking cocoa flavanols daily helped promote healthy blood pressure levels among study participants

Healthier Cholesterol Levels

Participants also experienced healthy levels of both good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) relative to those who didn't consume cocoa flavanols

What did we learn?

Healthy adults who consumed cocoa flavanols daily for 1 month experienced several positive indications of heart health, including healthy blood vessel function and healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Daily consumption of cocoa flavanols can help promote optimal heart health and keep your entire cardiovascular system strong.

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Heart Health Study

Study Abstract

Cocoa flavanol (CF) intake improves endothelial function in patients with cardiovascular risk factors and disease. We investigated the effects of CF on surrogate markers of cardiovascular health in low risk, healthy, middle-aged individuals without history, signs or symptoms of CVD. In a 1-month, open-label, one-armed pilot study, bi-daily ingestion of 450 mg of CF led to a time-dependent increase in endothelial function (measured as flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD)) that plateaued after 2 weeks. Subsequently, in a randomised, controlled, double-masked, parallel-group dietary intervention trial (Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01799005), 100 healthy, middle-aged (35–60 years) men and women consumed either the CF-containing drink (450 mg) or a nutrient-matched CF-free control bi-daily for 1 month. The primary end point was FMD. Secondary end points included plasma lipids and blood pressure, thus enabling the calculation of Framingham Risk Scores and pulse wave velocity. At 1 month, CF increased FMD over control by 1·2 % (95 % CI 1·0, 1·4 %). CF decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4·4 mmHg (95 % CI 7·9, 0·9 mmHg) and 3·9 mmHg (95 % CI 6·7, 0·9 mmHg), pulse wave velocity by 0·4 m/s (95 % CI 0·8, 0·04 m/s), total cholesterol by 0·20 mmol/l (95 % CI 0·39, 0·01 mmol/l) and LDL-cholesterol by 0·17 mmol/l (95 % CI 0·32, 0·02 mmol/l), whereas HDL-cholesterol increased by 0·10 mmol/l (95 % CI 0·04, 0·17 mmol/l). By applying the Framingham Risk Score, CF predicted a significant lowering of 10-year risk for CHD, myocardial infarction, CVD, death from CHD and CVD. In healthy individuals, regular CF intake improved accredited cardiovascular surrogates of cardiovascular risk, demonstrating that dietary flavanols have the potential to maintain cardiovascular health even in low-risk subjects.