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TCHO New American Chocolate

Chocolate Boosts Vascular Function

I have a few comments below the article…

HFC: Sweet News — Chocolate Boosts Vascular Function
By Peggy Peck, Executive Editor, MedPage Today
Published: June 01, 2010
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

BERLIN — Within just hours of eating a flavonol-rich chocolate bar, patients with congestive heart failure had measurable improvements in vascular function, researchers here reported.

Flow-mediated vasodilatation measured at the brachial artery significantly improved from 4.98% to 5.98% (P=0.045) two hours after eating 40 grams of chocolate, Andreas Flammer, MD, of University Hospital in Zurich, reported in a late-breaking clinical trial poster presentation at the Heart Failure Congress.

Moreover, among patients who ate 80 grams of chocolate a day for four weeks, flow-mediated vasodilatation improved from 4.98% to 6.86% (P=0.027), he said. But while platelet adhesion significantly decreased — from 3.9% to 2.99% (P=0.03) two hours after eating chocolate, this effect was not durable. There was no change in platelet adhesion at two weeks or four weeks.

Flammer and his colleagues evenly randomized 20 heart failure patients to 80 grams of flavonol-rich chocolate bars or cocoa-free, flavonol-free placebo bars specially manufactured to resemble and taste like a chocolate bar.

Endothelial function was assessed noninvasively by flow-mediated vasodilatation of the brachial artery, and platelet function was assessed by a cone and platelet analyzing system.

There was no improvement from baseline measures of endothelial function or platelet adhesion among the 10 controls.

He noted that the dose — 80 grams — is “a lot of chocolate” and may be more than many people — especially elderly congestive heart failure patients — could easily consume. A Hersey bar, for example, is 43 grams.

Moreover, Flammer said that the chocolate bar used in the study “is commercially available in Europe, but not in the U.S.” The closest U.S. available product, Flammer said, would be Lindt dark chocolate bars — “80 grams would be almost all of a Lindt bar.”

And he said that the key to finding flavonol-rich chocolate is not, “the cocoa content, it is the flavonol content.

“Flammer noted that candy makers have responded to news stories about the health benefits of chocolate by increasing the cocoa content in chocolate and prominently displaying the cocoa content on labels. “But the manufacturers boost cocoa content by increasing cocoa fats, not cocoa itself,” he explained. That process does not, he said, increase the flavonol level. Wayne Levy, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said the small study was interesting for several reasons beyond the natural appeal of chocolate.

He noted, for example, that the daily chocolate intake had no adverse effect on other parameters including total cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and — most interestingly — there was no weight gain associated with the chocolate regimen.

Flammer had an explanation for the lack of weight gain. “They weren’t hungry after eating the chocolate,” he said.

Three things I note about this article:
1) I’m not sure why the researcher says Lindt is the closest you can come to the dark chocolate used in the study; it shouldn’t matter what brand it is as long as they use a similar % of flavanol-rich cacao in their formulations.

2) The researcher says that manufacturers boost cacao content by increasing the cocoa butter content not the flavanol-rich cacao itself. While this might be a tactic used by manufacturers who use low quality cocoa beans (you can mask bitter notes with added cocoa butter), TCHO is focused on expressing the primary flavors inherent to cacao, and cocoa butter blands down these flavors. Therefore, we use just enough cocoa butter to meet our flavor and texture goals—and, based on my personal tasting experience, it’s quite a bit less than many of the chocolate bars out there.

3) Very interesting that eating a fair amount of dark chocolate per day did not seem to affect total cholesterol, triglycerides, or blood pressure. And there was no weight gain associated with the chocolate regimen. This might explain why I’ve been working here 4.5 years and eating probably 10 times more chocolate daily than I ever have, and somehow have not gained any weight (and I’ve never dieted).