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Eating and drinking Cocoa helps you live longer

June 14, 2017

As far back as the 18th century cocoa has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits but researchers are just beginning to collect scientific evidence for these claims.

Cocoa is now known to contain chemicals called flavan-3-ols, which have been linked to lower blood pressure and improved function of the cells lining the blood vessels.

Previous studies have disagreed about whether it staves off heart disease over the long-term particularly since it is contained in foods high in fat, sugar and calories.

This new study came to the conclusion that it was not just the lower blood pressure that corresponded to the finding of a lower overall risk of death but credited antioxidants and flavanols found in cocoa, with boosting the functioning of cells that line blood vessels and for lessening the risks from cholesterol and other chemicals that can cause heart attacks, cancer and lung diseases.

Flavanols are a class of healthy flavonoids that are found in many vegetables, green tea and red wine.

The 15-year study by Brian Buijsse, M.Sc., of the , Bilthoven, the Netherlands, and colleagues, examined cocoa's relationship to cardiovascular health in 470 Dutch men aged 65 to 84 years.

The men underwent physical examinations and were interviewed about their dietary intake when they enrolled in the study in 1985 and at follow-up visits in 1990 and 1995.

The researchers then placed them into three groups based on their level of cocoa consumption.

Information about their subsequent illnesses and deaths were obtained from hospital or government data.

Over the next 15 years, men who consumed cocoa regularly had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not.

Over the course of the study, 314 men died, 152 due to cardiovascular diseases.

Men in the group with the highest cocoa consumption were half as likely as the others to die from cardiovascular disease.

Their risk remained lower even when considering other factors, such as weight, smoking habits, physical activity levels, calorie intake and alcohol consumption.

The men who consumed more cocoa were also less likely to die of any cause.

The report's author, Brian Buijsse says before they can say cocoa can save your life, a larger study needs to be done.

Buijsse says the link between chocolate and overall lower risk of death suggests that other mechanisms also may be involved, and because cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, it may also be related to other disease that are linked to oxidative stress.

The study is published Archives of Internal Medicine.