Cocoa Flavanols May Help Kidney Patients: Study

Cocoa Flavanols May Help Kidney Patients: Study

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 24 Dec 2015 - 12:24


An ailing kidney could impact the functioning of the heart, leading to cardiovascular diseases. The heart and kidney are interdependent organs and the dysfunction of one of them can cause high risk to the other organ. A new study (published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology) revealed that consuming cocoa products could help heart and kidney failure patients amend their blood vessel function.

If the heart is inefficient in pumping blood, it gets choked affecting the smooth flow of the blood and creates pressure, which ultimately affects the kidneys due to the reduction of the oxygenated blood to this organ.  

Maintaining good vascular health with dietary and lifestyle modifications does a lot of good to the heart health and kidneys.

How Does Cocoa help Kidney Patients?

The flavanols present in cocoa bean and dark chocolate is a larger group of compounds called flavonoids that naturally exist in plant foods. Though these flavonoids are available in tea and red wine that obtained from cocoa bean is unique.

Scientist from Tufts University in Medford, have discovered that cocoa flavanols positively impact the circulatory system and improve the flexibility of arteries. About 2.5 gm of high-flavanol cocoa powder equals to 10 g of high-flavanol dark chocolate. But a  regular chocolate or other cocoa products may not have that concentration of flavanols as in cocoa bean, due to the processing of the cocoa.

Study: For the study, Dr. Tienush Rassaf and group at the University Hospital Essen in Germany examined the benefits of cocoa flavanols on 57 kidney failure patients. Researchers arranged the participants randomly to either consume a beverage rich in cocoa flavanols (900 mg per day) or control beverage without cocoa flavanols. However the nutritional content was the same.

Study Findings: After a follow-up of one month, researchers discovered that patients who drank a beverage rich in cocoa flavanol showed improved blood vessel function and also diminished diastolic blood pressure as compared with the control beverage group.

Dr. Rassaf says, "Impressively, the degree of reversion of vessel dysfunction was comparable to the effects observed through administering statins or making dietary and lifestyle changes. Whether this approach also leads to a reduction in mortality is not clear and has to be investigated."

Other health benefits of cocoa: Cocoa provides other health benefits such as:

  • A study published in the International journal of medical science reveals that flavanol compounds present in cocoa increases blood flow in the brain and enhances cognitive function in older individuals.
  • Another study published in the Nutrition Journal showed that cocoa flavanols comprise of compounds that shields the skin from UV damage. It helps protect the skin against skin roughness and scaling due to sun exposure.
  • Researchers at Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts discovered that theobromine, a bitter alkaloid available in cocoa, can conquer coughs caused by irritants, such as capsaicin.
  • Cocoa also helps improves resistance to insulin, which is very essential as insulin helps modulate glucose-blood sugar levels, and helps diminish diabetes risk.


Reference: Vasculoprotective effects of dietary cocoa flavanols in hemodialysis patients: a double-blind, randomized, placebocontrolled trial, Christos Rammos et al., Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, doi: 10.2215/CJN.05560515, December 17, 2015



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