From heart disease to dementia: Cocoa can slash the risk of 3 leading causes of death


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One approach to longer life lies in warding off the precursors of chronic disease. While colourful fruit and veg are the obvious choices for boosting your health, there’s a dark treat that may also be potent. In fact, research suggests it could lower your risk of three major conditions.

Characterised by its rich flavour, cocoa powder offers more than a decadent ingredient.

New research, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, makes a strong case for enjoying cocoa as well as chocolate.

A certain type of plant compound, called polyphenol, is found in these foods, which has been celebrated in the research for its ability to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, while improving cognitive function.

According to the World Health Organization, dementia, heart disease and stroke are all considered the leading causes of death, posing a major threat to your longevity.

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Fortunately, cocoa is just one food that could offer a helping hand in staving off these deadly conditions.

What’s more, the beneficial effects of the sweet treat go way back, with various studies highlighting its strong powers.

Heart disease and stroke

One of the main triggers for both of these cardiovascular conditions is high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, mean that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke over time.

This is where cocoa and its polyphenols come to the rescue with their ability to reduce blood pressure and improve arterial stiffness.

These effects are echoed throughout various studies, including research, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

This first study of its kind was able to reduce the concerns that cocoa could pose health risks when used as a treatment.

During the research, eleven participants were given either six cocoa flavanol capsules or six placebo capsules containing brown sugar.

READ MORE: Dementia signs: Two changes in a person’s walk that can precede diagnosis by ‘six years’

After measuring blood pressure and arterial stiffness, the research team found that cocoa was able to lower hypertension at an eight-hour mark.

What’s more, the study suggests that the treat may be as potent as some blood pressure medications.

The team explained that with more research, cocoa might be potentially used in clinical practice and could help stave off major conditions.


Research in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry looked at the effects of a cocoa extract on an Alzheimer’s disease in vitro model.

Vitro model isolates cells and microorganisms from their natural environment, allowing researchers to get an insight into their behaviour.

While these models may not precisely predict the effects of the entire organism, this research managed to find promising results.

The team found that polyphenols in cocoa trigger neuroprotective effects, which suggests that the treat could help maintain or even improve good brain health.

However, there’s currently need for research that will focus directly on whether cocoa can help prevent the mind-robbing condition.

Based on these different studies, the cocoa polyphenols might be able to boost longevity by protecting against the three common conditions.


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