Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A treat for chocaholics

Feeling guilty at sneaking a chocolate into your coffee break this morning? I must admit that mid-week pangs led me to indulge in a little treat with my machine-formulated instant rehydrated latte this morning. However fear not intrepid J4P reader, chocolate has untold benefits for your health:

“Diet patterns are widely recognized as contributors to hypertension. Widely studied potential contributors include intake of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, alcohol, protein, and calories. We add to that list the effect of dietary flavanols present in certain cocoas, which have sufficient activity on vascular nitric oxide to influence blood pressure control. Kuna Indians who live on islands near Panama have little age-related rise in blood pressure or hypertension. On migration to Panama City, blood pressure rises with age, and the frequency of essential hypertension matches urban levels elsewhere. We have identified a specific food that probably makes an important contribution to cardiovascular status. Island-dwelling Kuna drink more than 5 cups of flavanol-rich cocoa per day and incorporate that cocoa into many recipes. Mainland Kuna ingest little cocoa, and what they take is commercially available and flavanol-poor. The flavanol-rich cocoa activates nitric oxide synthase in vitro and in intact humans in the doses that the Kuna employ. Vasodilator responses to flavonoid-rich cocoa are prevented or reversed by the arginine analog, N-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester. Island-dwelling Kuna have a 3-fold larger urinary nitrate:nitrite than do Mainland dwellers. As endothelial dysfunction is central to current thinking on cardiovascular pathophysiology, a food that enhances endothelial function could have broad implications. The list of candidate conditions that might be influenced is impressive, ranging from atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus to hypertension and preeclampsia, to vascular dementias and end-stage renal disease.

Vascular action of cocoa flavanols in humans: the roots of the story. K Hollengberg N. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 2006;47 Suppl 2:S99-102; discussion S119-21

Had a smoke too? Fear not:

“The circulating pool of bioactive NO and endothelium-dependent vasodilation is acutely increased in smokers following the oral ingestion of a flavanol-rich cocoa drink. The increase in circulating NO pool may contribute to beneficial vascular health effects of flavanol-rich food.”

Acute consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa and the reversal of endothelial dysfunction in smokers. Heiss C, Kleinbongard P, Dejam A, Perre S, Schroeter H, Sies H, Kelm M. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005 Oct 4;46(7):1276-83.

Previous studies have also shown that theobromine in chocolate is also more effective than codeine in suppressing coughs. In fact if you have any codeine in the cupboard, give it back to the pharmacy. Recent work in Manchester shows that it is no better than placebo against coughs.


Anonymous dan said...

Thats f***ing interesting.
Just been trying to use a flavanoid to inhibit HO-1 in white blood cells.
Another researcher in group getting prelim data on HO-1 to investigate pulmonary arterial hypertension. Had not thought of flavanoid direct effect on NOS.
You are a fountain of knowledge.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Kebz said...

The last time I worked on NOS was 1992/1993 as a young graduate. I think it was just after it was discovered. The field has moved on quite a bit since but doesn't seem to have lived up to the hype that was around at the time. It's not really my scene anymore but I enjoy reading about anything and everything if I can get the time, which is not often. I will soon be unemployed anyway, so I should have time to do more reading.

12:34 PM  

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