Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A Cup of Cocoa Helps Diabetes
Time for health news that is warm and fuzzy!
A new study reported in the Journal of American College of Cardiology shows that a big mug of hot cocoa can reverse vascular dysfunction in patients with diabetes, suggesting a therapeutic potential of cocoa in this patient population.
Prior studies have shown that flavanol-containing foods, including cocoa, certain fruits and vegetables, tea, and red wine, have beneficial effects on LDL oxidation, platelet aggregation, insulin sensitivity, endothelial function, and blood pressure. These researchers show that the reversal of diabetic endothelial dysfunction with cocoa is comparable to intermediate- and long-term interventions using exercise and various medications, including insulin, pioglitazone, ACE inhibitors, and statins. They also found that over time the good effects persisted. Even if cocoa could enhance lifestyle and medication benefits in diabetics, it would be significant in how we approach this diabetes epidemic.
This study was not designed to determine the molecular mechanism of action but there is an indigenous population in Panama (Kuna Indians) that consumes a large amount of cocoa rich in flavanols. Despite their diet that also has a large amount of salt, they have a very low prevalence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer compared with Kuna Indians living in Panama City.
It is important to know that the doses of flavanol in the cocoa were much higher than what we are drinking. The high-flavanol cocoa used in this study--which provides much more flavanol than the typical US dietary intake of 20 to 100 mg daily--is not sold in the supermarket.
It looks like an opportunity for a Mars or Hersheys manufacturer to me.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 11:34 AM