Cocoa Flavonoids & Avocados May Protect Against Cardiovascular Death

The COSMOS study, sponsored by Pfizer and Mars Candies, looked at the effect of Cocoa flavonoids on cardiovascular events such as a heart attack, cardiovascular deaths and consumption of cocoa flavonoids and green tea. There were 21,442 U.S. adults in the study followed for 3.6 years.

The experimental group received cocoa and green tea. While there were just as many cardiovascular events in the study group as in the control group, the number of deaths dropped by 27%. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was commented on by David Rakel, MD, FAAFP in the online medical journal Primary Care.

Flavonoids are found in dark colored grapes and berries, apples, pears, green tea and dark chocolate. If you eat 1/4 of a dark chocolate bar you are getting the same dosage the experimental group was given in this study.

Dr. Rakel suggested that Flavonoids maintain the flexibility of the blood vessels as we age. Recent related studies indicate a handful of blueberries or cranberries daily have similar effects. A glass of red wine with a square of dark chocolate and some dark berries suddenly sounds like a healthy snack!

Avocados apparently convey cardiovascular protection as well. In a study published in the March 30, 2022 Journal of the American Heart Association researchers followed 110,00 adults for 30 plus years and found that those who consumed two or more servings of avocado a week had a much lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease then non consumers.

Hot Cocoa And Other Foods May Boost Brain Power

G. Desideri, PhD, of the University of L’Aquila in Italy performed a controlled double blind study that looked at the effects of cocoa flavonoids on cognitive function in seniors who were mildly cognitively impaired.  The data was presented in the online journal Hypertension and reviewed in the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine online journal MedPage.  Existing “evidence” suggests eating flavonoids, polyphonic compounds from plant-based foods, may confer cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) benefits.  Flavonols are a type of compound found in abundance in tea, grapes, red wine, apples and cocoa products including chocolate.

Desideri and associates looked at 90 seniors diagnosed with minimal cognitive impairment (MCI) who were randomly assigned to drink cocoa for eight weeks containing high, intermediate and low levels of flavanols per day.  They found improvement in the cognitive performance of those in the high and intermediate flavanol intake groups.   They additionally noted improvements in blood pressure and insulin resistance for these same groups. Systolic blood pressure decreased 10 mm in the high intake group and 8.2 mm in the intermediate group. A drop in diastolic blood pressure was noted as well.     There was no elevation of blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels in any of the groups and blood sugar actually decreased in the high and intermediate intake groups.

They concluded that “regular dietary inclusion of flavanols could be one element of a dietary approach to maintaining and improving not only cardiovascular health but also, specifically, brain health.”

Clearly more research is needed but initial studies like this certainly encourage clinicians to feel comfortable suggesting that a cup of hot cocoa, a glass of red wine (in moderation), red grapes and dark chocolate are healthy as well as pleasurable.