Cocoa for pleasure, being young and healthy | Massive study will try to determine benefits of much-loved, savory powder
“Cocoa flavanols appear to be very promising for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss, cognitive decline,” said JoAnn Manson, co-principal investigator of the study, Michael and Lee Bell Professor of Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School, and chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “But the evidence to date has been inconclusive. Most of the randomized trials previously done have been smaller in size, suggesting there may be favorable effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors, including lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and dilation of blood vessels, decreasing inflammation, and maybe improving insulin sensitivity and the ability to metabolize glucose.”
The bad news for chocoholics, however, is that though cocoa is a key ingredient, variations in processing methods make chocolate an unreliable source of flavanols, Manson said. Chocolate also typically contains enough fat, sugar, and calories that, however the trial turns out, it’s unlikely to result in prescriptions to eat more chocolate, though capsules or beverages high in cocoa flavanols are possible, Manson said.
“The results of the COSMOS trial would not lead to a clinical recommendation to eat more chocolate, though it might provide more incentive for people to enjoy chocolate as a treat,” Manson said.