Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heart-Healthy Compound in Chocolate Identified

23.01.2006


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 who 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.

Funding for this research was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Biomedicinisches Forschungszentrum of the University of Duesseldorf and Mars Inc.

Patricia Bailey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Individualized fiber components for the world market

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How brains surrender to sleep

23.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>