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Could chocolate help improve heart health?

05 Jul 2019

Research published in the European Heart Journal investigates using flavanol-rich chocolate to improve vascular function in patients with congestive heart failure. This research was recommended by a member of the F1000Prime Faulty. If you’re interested in seeing more article recommendations visit the F1000Prime homepage.

Recommending
chocolate to patients with poor health might seem odd, but Cocoa is rich in
flavanols which can have benefits on heart health. Flavanols are a type of
polyphenol which is naturally produced by plants and are found in certain
fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, wine, grains and chocolate.

Most of the research conducted on flavanols is still
inconclusive. However, this research from University
Hospital Zurich
 suggests that following a
4-week period of eating flavanol containing chocolates the researchers did
observe an improvement in patients heart health.

In this double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial twenty
patients, with a confirmed diagnosis of congestive heart failure, were either
given flavanol-rich chocolate with cocoa or the control flavanol-free
chocolate. Over the course of the experiment, the researchers measured the
endothelial function using a non-invasive method of flow-mediated
vasodilatation of the brachial artery.

This is the first time researchers reported the significant effect of commercially available flavanol-rich chocolate on endothelial and platelet function in patients with congestive heart failure. Furthermore, the researchers also found that chocolate not only improved this important cardiovascular surrogate marker but continued to see the benefits after longer-term ingestion for up to 4 weeks.

This study clearly outlines some benefits to cardiovascular health when incorporating flavanol-rich chocolates into the diet. In addition to this research, we’ve rounded up some of the best research on chocolate, which has been recommended by the F1000Prime Faculty to celebrate World Chocolate Day.

If you like our recommendations, why not consider checking out F1000Prime? F1000Prime is our literature recommendation service, which has a peer-nominated global Faculty of more than 8,000 of the world’s leading biomedical scientists and clinicians. The Faculty select those articles which they think are particularly interesting and important and write recommendations explaining their selection. From the numerical ratings awarded, we have created a unique system for quantifying the importance of individual articles.

“I love this piece! A little bit of a spoof, but also a well-crafted educational tool for anyone who wants to read research with a critical eye. The article ‘shows’ a per capita relationship across several countries between chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel laureates.”

Rona Levy, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

“This editorial discusses the difficulty in the interpretation of the data reported by LeWitt et al. and raises a challenge as to the possible therapeutic effects of chocolate or caffeine in Parkinson’s disease.”

Rivka Inzelberg, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel

“Neutral Pavlovian cues paired with chocolate odor reward not only gain the ability to attract human visual attention spatially toward themselves, according to this interesting paper. The cues’ attention-grabbing ability is also directly modulated by relevant hunger/satiety state, in accordance with incentive salience theory.”

Kent Berridge, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

Current Top 3
recommendations

Rankings are generated using the article recommended in F1000Prime during the preceding 30 days.

“I finally was able to dig into this meaty paper and I now see that several others have already recommended it. The work beautifully utilizes model organisms.”

Lynn Zechiedrich, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA

“In this article, Maestre lists 10 rules for healthier research labs. His list is well thought out and addresses all the major issues that PIs need to have in mind when running an ethical lab. Moreover, he provides students and postdocs with a convenient list of what to demand from their advisors and supervisors.”

Luis Amaral,Northwestern University, Evanston, USA

“Systematically testing the art of medicine is a challenge. In this study, the authors make a commendable attempt to do just that, suggesting that a clinical exam-based resuscitation strategy for septic shock may be as good, if not better, than target measured endpoints. This should be a library article for any clinicians that are interested in explaining the still-vital role of clinical examination and evaluation and a much-needed respite from escalating calls for new monitor technologies or assays.”

Mark Nunnally, New York Langone Medical Center, New York University, USA

“This article contains very sensible and timely advice on how to run a lab! I do hope many starting (and well-established) PIs read this. Lots of food for thought.”

Thorsten Hamann, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

“The authors of this paper have made significant progress in understanding how a cell can break through the basement membrane.”

Robert K Herman,University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA

“In this study, Feng, Arang and colleagues, used a powerful bioinformatic pipeline to identify focal adhesion kinase (FAK) as a synthetic lethal gene with mutant GNAQ. The authors show that FAK is overexpressed in uveal melanomas (18% harbor amplifications and 38% display increased mRNA levels). In conclusion, this is an exciting and timely study that sheds light onto the complex regulation of YAP in cancer. Since FAK inhibitors are being tested in clinical trials, these results could help guide treatments for uveal melanoma patients.”

John BrognardPedro Torres-AyusoNIH Intramural Research Program, Frederick, USA

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Click here to view the full article which appeared in F1000 Research