How Does Cocoa Help To Maintain Heart Health?
In the past many years, the positive link between chocolate and heart health has been recorded by many studies and this is primarily due to the active ingredient in chocolate, cocoa. Cocoa has been recognized to provide health promoting benefits to the heart.
Cocoa is one of the most widely consumed food ingredients. It is a rich source of polyphenolic compounds which have a high amount of flavonoids. Flavonoids are specifically known to have multiple health benefits which act as a defense compound pathogens and ultraviolet damage. The components of cocoa are particularly known to be rich in catechins which are classified as flavan-3-ol (one of the types of flavonoids). Flavonols in the cocoa influence healing properties and offer a wide range of health benefits.
In addition to polyphenols, cocoa also contains other compounds such as theobromine and caffeine, but in a small amount. Research suggests that theobromine possesses high bioavailability and various biological activities such as increasing high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Not only this, but theobromine also stimulates the heart muscles.
High prevalence of cardiovascular disease in the United States and worldwide has been reported in many studies. In fact, in the United States, it is considered to be one of the killers of both men and women. But the good news is that heart disease is preventable. There is a number of actions that a person can take to reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease such as focusing on lifestyle habits. There are various components that you can add in your diet to reduce the risk of heart problems, and cocoa is one of them.
Cardiovascular disease involves a group of diseases that are associated with the heart. There are various different types of cardiovascular diseases that have various risk factors. But the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:
- High low density lipoprotein cholesterol
- Poor blood flow
- Problems with weight management
- Uncontrolled glucose level
Cocoa is known to have an impact on almost every risk factor of cardiovascular disease.
1. Blood pressure is defined as a flow of blood to the walls of the arteries when this pressure on the walls of arteries increases than the normal level, it is known as high blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the common risk factors of developing a cardiovascular disease which often left unnoticed. As it does not have any necessary symptoms.
Cocoa helps to regulate the level of blood pressure and it has an impact on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The flavonols in cocoa reduce the excess pressure on the walls of the arteries and prevent the occurrence of cardiovascular disease.
2. High concentration of low density lipoprotein cholesterol is another common risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is a fat like substance which could lead to the build up of fat in the arteries and prevents the supply of oxygen rich blood to the heart muscles. Cholesterol is of two types - High density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL prevents heart disease and LDL cause heart disease.
Many studies have suggested that cocoa phenolics have bioactive compounds that have cardiovascular effects. These effects are in part due to antioxidant properties of cocoa phenolics which increases the plasma concentration of antioxidants that prevent the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Polyphenols in cocoa also prevent heart disease by increasing the concentration of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
3. Proper and adequate flow of blood to the heart muscle is an important factor to allow the heart to function normally. Coronary arteries are the primary arteries that supply oxygen risk blood to the heart muscle and whenever this supply of oxygen to the heart is impaired, problems with heart occur.
When the blood is supplied to the heart partially, it is known as angina and when the supply is completely blocked, a heart attack occurs. It is believed that adding cocoa in the diet improves the flow of blood and reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. As the oxygen rich blood is supplied to the heart, it pumps blood and functions normally.<4. Obesity is considered to be a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is a chronic metabolic disorder which is defined as an accumulation of excess body fat to an extent, that it begins to affect the health of a person. Too much fat in the body affects the supply of blood to the heart muscle, resulting in heart problems.
Two factors that affect body fat are calorie intake and energy expenditure. Cocoa has long been known to aid weight loss and this is in part due to the presence of caffeine in cocoa. Caffeine is one of the ingredients which is known to expend calories. It works by boosting the metabolic rate and increasing the burning of fat.
5. High glucose level, or in medical terms diabetes mellitus is also associated with cardiovascular disease. The glucose level in the blood increases due to insufficient insulin production, impaired insulin action, or both. Too much glucose level in the blood is associated with various complications, including cardiovascular disease. Uncontrolled blood glucose cause damage to the arteries that supply oxygen rich blood.
Cocoa helps to regulate the glucose level in the blood and it does this by improving the ability of the body to use the produced insulin effectively. This will prevent the occurrence of diabetes mellitus.
Taking important steps to take care of the heart is essential as it is one of the leading causes of death across the world. There is no single cause of developing cardiovascular disease, but there are multiple factors that could affect the functioning of the heart. Although preventing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease completely is not possible, there are some preventable causes such as regular physical exercise, getting adequate sleep, eating healthy food, and many more. Cocoa is just one ingredient that is known to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks that contain caffeine.
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