A Hot Cuppa Cocoa Reverses Stress Related Impact On Heart

June 26, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Increased consumption of flavanols, a class of chemicals found naturally in fruit and vegetables, may shield people from cardiovascular events brought on by mental stress, including stroke, heart disease, and thrombosis, suggests new research.

Researchers have shown that giving them a cocoa drink high in flavanols helped their blood vessels perform better under mental stress than giving them a drink low in flavanols.

What Are Flavanols?

Plants contain naturally occurring substances called flavonoids. There is a unique subgroup of flavonoids called flavanols. Tea, apples, grapes, red wine, and cocoa are a few examples of foods and drinks that are high in these flavanols. Additionally, cocoa flavanols—a particular combination of phytonutrients found only in the highly sought-after cocoa beans—are special on their own.

Mental stress can have a negative effect on blood vessel function

When the endothelium, a thin layer of cells lining the heart and blood vessels, is healthy, it helps to lower the risk of renal failure, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, thrombosis, and severe viral infectious illnesses. It is well known that mental stress can impair blood vessel health.

The University of Birmingham in the UK conducted a study on the impact of cocoa flavanols on alterations in vascular function brought on by stress, and they published their findings in the journal Nutrients.

Lead author, Dr. Catarina Rendeiro, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences, explains: “We found that drinking flavanol-rich cocoa can be an effective dietary strategy to reduce temporary impairments in endothelial function following mental stress and also improve blood flow during stressful episodes.”

“Flavanols are extremely common in a wide range of fruit and vegetables. By utilizing the known cardiovascular benefits of these compounds during periods of acute vascular vulnerability (such as stress) we can offer improved guidance to people about how to make the most of their dietary choices during stressful periods.”

Flavanols improve blood flow during stress

A group of healthy males participated in a randomized trial by graduate student Rosalind Baynham, who gave them 90 minutes to prepare for an eight-minute mental stress exercise.

The forearm blood flow, cardiovascular activity, and blood vessel function up to 90 minutes after stress were all examined by the researchers. They found that when the subjects drank high-flavanol cocoa, blood vessel function was less compromised. Additionally, the researchers found that flavanols enhance blood flow when under stress.

Stress temporarily impairs the function of arteries

Today, stress is a common occurrence and has been connected to both psychological and physical health. Healthy adults who experience mental stress experience acute increases in heart rate and blood pressure (BP), as well as temporary impairments in the function of their arteries, even after the stressful episode has passed.

Stress has been demonstrated to increase the risk of acute cardiovascular events, and it has been hypothesized that the effect of stress on blood vessels plays a role in these stress-induced cardiovascular events. Dr. Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten, a co-investigator in this study, has demonstrated in the past that those who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease had worse vascular reactions to acute stress.

Flavanols help protect the blood vessels

“Our findings are significant for everyday diet, given that the daily dosage administered could be achieved by consuming a variety of foods rich in flavanols — particularly apples, black grapes, blackberries, cherries, raspberries, pears, pulses, green tea, and unprocessed cocoa. This has important implications for measures to protect the blood vessels of individuals more vulnerable to mental stress,” commented Dr. Rendeiro.

Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of Birmingham. Note: Content may be edited for style and length; https://nutritiouslife.com.

Journal Reference:

Rosalind Baynham, Jet J.C.S. Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Paul W. Johns, Quang S. Pham, Catarina Rendeiro. Cocoa Flavanols Improve Vascular Responses to Acute Mental Stress in Young Healthy Adults. Nutrients, 2021; 13 (4): 1103 DOI: 10.3390/nu13041103

Page citation:

The University of Birmingham. “Can drinking cocoa protect your heart when you’re stressed?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210331114734.htm>.

Help is here:

Name of the Organisation: India Heart Foundation:

The India Heart Foundation is a collective that works with doctors from across the country empowering them to reach out to the people around them better. They are creating medical educational resources and building a global cardiovascular community to promote cardiovascular health at a regional and national level.

Website: http://indiaheartfoundation.in/

Contact: Telephone: +91 8220277777

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