Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is a class of diseases that involve the heart or blood vessels (arteries and veins). There are several risk factors for cardiovascular disease that are essentially immutable. These are older age, male gender, and a family history of CVD. Additionally, three major risk factors identified include cigarette smoking, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), and hypertension. Other identified factors associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease include physical inactivity, sleep problems, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, excessive intake of alcohol, thrombotic and fibrinolytic factors, elevated homocysteine levels, certain infections and inflammation, exogenously administered estrogens and androgens, certain psychosocial factors, increased fasting glucose. and frequency of migraines. The synergism of the presence of multiple risk factors must also be considered.
Cocoa is comprised of two saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic acids) and a mono-unsaturated acid (oleic acid). Cocoa contains vitamins such as: A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid. Also, essential minerals: magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese. Cocoa phenols have been found to prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from plague buildup in the arteries, thereby, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cocoa contains less caffeine than most people think. In comparison to a cup of coffee which has 100 mg of caffeine, a cup of cocoa has only 10 mg of caffeine.
Researchers recently investigated whether there is an association between chocolate consumption and blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. A total of 19,357 participants aged 35 to 65 years who had no history of myocardial infarction or stroke and who were not using anti-hypertensive medications were included in this study. The researchers administered dietary intake questionnaires, which included chocolate consumption and also measured each participant’s baseline blood pressure. The subjects were followed-up after a mean of eight years. It was found that mean systolic blood pressure was 1.0 mmHg lower and mean diastolic blood pressure was 0.9 mmHg lower in the top quartile of chocolate consumption as compared with the bottom quartile. It was then discovered that those who consumed the most chocolate also had a lower incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke although it appears that the inverse association is stronger for stroke. These results seem to suggest that chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, in part by lowering blood pressure although further randomized trials are needed.1
1 Buijsse B, Weikert C, Drogan D, et al. Chocolate consumption in relation to blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease in German adults. Eur Heart J. 2010.