San Diego — Cocoa flavanol consumption can repair heart muscle damage, while increasing the organ’s integrity and growth, and reducing oxidative stress in patients with both heart failure and type 2 diabetes, according to a study from the University of California, San Diego.
Patients ate a prescribed amount of cocoa in the form of dark chocolate and a cocoa beverage designed to provide approximately 100mg of the flavanol throughout a period of three months.
“In looking at these three reports, we believe that the naturally occurring compounds in cocoa called flavanols are the key regulators of the mitochondrial, muscle and antioxidative effects we observed,” Researcher and Professor of Medicine at UCSD Francisco Villarreal MD, PhD says. “Our hypothesis is that cocoa, as a food naturally concentrated in flavanols, may not only neutralize high oxidative stress condition, but also have specific and beneficial actions on important control system pathways in muscle tissue.”
Results show the mitochondria of skeletal muscles, which are largely broken in heart failure patients and generate most of the energy for all cells, were partially restored. Prior to the study, patients had a loss of structural components that prevent muscle fiber energy and multiple regulators of muscle growth were also severely disrupted. Following the three-month period, the structural components and regulators notably recovered.
Tissue antioxidant buffers such as glutathione were also depleted in the patients before the study, but afterwards, patients showed “a striking recovery of markers of tissue oxidative stress and their control systems as well as antioxidant buffers following cocoa consumption.”