It has become an accepted belief that “dark chocolate is good for the heart.” While myriad data support the link between cocoa ingestion and improved heart health, what is less clear is the amount of cocoa and the reason. Research being conducted at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute seeks to clarify these important points.
Kevin D. Monahan, Ph.D., associate professor at Penn State College of Medicine, examined dose-dependent increases in brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) acutely with responses measured over two hours after older adults in good health ingested cocoa. The study hypothesized that the favorable effects of flavonoids, such as those found in cocoa, on the endothelium may result in positive cardiovascular effects. A dose-dependent relationship was seen between cocoa ingestion and an increase in endothelium-dependent vasodilation measured by FMD.1 Positive cardiovascular effects were observed with ingestion of between five and twenty-six grams of cocoa.1