From Tree To Heart: the sustainability and health benefits of chocolate

From our friends at the Mind the Science Gap blog:

If you picked up this month’s Scientific American or listened to The Diane Rehm Show on NPR last week, you may be worried about the impending apocalypse. Yes, that’s right. The future of chocolate may be doomed. In February’s Scientific American, Harold Schmitz and Howard-Yana Shapiro discussed the fate of this most beloved indulgence in “The Future of Chocolate,” and it is, to say the least, disheartening. So if you are currently digging into your pre-Valentine’s Day chocolate treats, savor that $3 Russell Stover’s heart box and read on. Inexpensive chocolate may be going the way of cheap gas.

For years now we have been hearing research on the benefits of chocolate and its ability to improve cardiovascular health in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this month released a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials on the effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols (chocolate’s primary bioactive component) on cardiovascular health. The review looked at 42 acute or short-term chronic randomized control trials including 1297 participants. The review showed consistent and short-term benefits of chocolate or cocoa on flow-mediated dilation, regardless of dose consumed and promising effects on insulin and HOMA-IR. Additionally, there were reductions in diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, mean arterial pressure and marginally significant effects on LDL and HDL. However, these last results were not stable to sensitivity analyses. Larger and longer-duration trials are needed to confirm these potential cardiovascular benefits. However, it is safe to say that chocolate has real potential health benefits along with its obvious gastronomic charms.

Read more here and remember to comment!

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