healthy heart


According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cocoa pills may reduce the risk of death as a result of heart disease by 27%.

In recent years, cocoa has become increasingly popular for its health benefits, with a particular focus on cocoa flavanols that are purported to have a variety of benefits, from brain function to heart health.

The research, titled ‘Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcome Study’ (COSMOS), was conducted by Dr Howard Sesso and Dr JoAnn Manson from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The Study

More than 21,000 participants were used as a sample for the study, which took place over 3.6 years.

The participants were divided into four groups: Those given a daily 500mg cocoa flavanol supplement, those given a multivitamin, and groups that were given either both or neither.

The results of the study showed “promising signals” that cocoa flavanol supplementation could help to reduce death from cardiovascular events, including death from heart disease, according to Dr Sesso. The study found that the group of people who took the flavanol-rich cocoa pills were 27% less likely to die from heart conditions. However, the supplement did not reduce the likelihood of heart damaging events.

The researchers examined the effects of a pill containing a concentrated dose of cocoa flavanols. Alas, the study warned that similar results would not be achieved through chocolate consumption.

Co-leader of the research, Dr Manson stated:

COSMOS was not a chocolate trial — rather, it’s a rigorous trial of a cocoa extract supplement that contains levels of cocoa flavanols that a person could never realistically consume from chocolate without adding excessive calories, fat, and sugar to their diet.

Flavanols are found in “several plant-based foods including cocoa, tea, grapes and berries” according to Dr Manson, and there have been a number of previous studies into the health benefits of the compound. While these new findings are indeed promising, the results are not conclusive.

These findings merit further investigation to better understand the effects of cocoa flavanols on cardiovascular health.  Our message for consumers is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in natural food sources of flavanols, and to stay tuned as we further evaluate other important health outcomes in COSMOS.

Dr Sesso, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

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