Mental stress is very common in today’s society and has been shown to be closely related to mental and physical health. Because too much stress increases the risk of acute cardiovascular events in healthy adults; even after stress, vascular function will be temporarily impaired.
Flavanol is a plant-derived polyphenol compound, which is found in cocoa, tea, fruits and vegetables. Among them, cocoa has the highest content of flavanols.
Previous studies have shown that flavanols can improve human vascular endothelial function and blood pressure, but its effect during stress is still unclear.
In a study published in Nutrients recently, a research team led by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom studied the effects of acute intake of cocoa flavanols on changes in vascular function caused by stress. They found that high levels of intake The flavanols can protect individuals from damage to blood vessel function caused by mental stress. Researchers have found that drinking a cup of cocoa with high levels of flavanols is more beneficial to blood vessel function than drinking other beverages when you are under stress.
The endothelium is a single layer of cells lined by the inner walls of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. When it works effectively, it helps reduce peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, tumor growth, thrombosis and seriousness. The risk of viral infectious diseases. And mental stress will have a negative impact on blood vessel function.
In order to understand the effects of cocoa flavanols on the changes in vascular function caused by stress, researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, controlled, cross-intervention trial. Thirty healthy men aged 18 to 45 were divided into two groups. One group was the high flavanol drinking group (150 mg, made by dissolving 8.3 mg of cocoa powder in 300 ml of water); the other group was drinking low Flavanol group (less than 4 mg, made with reduced fat alkalized cocoa powder mixed with water). Participants drank cocoa 90 minutes before the 8-minute stress task. The researchers measured the participants’ brachial artery blood flow-mediated diastolic function (FMD) and blood pressure before the intervention and 30 minutes and 90 minutes after the stress. The data showed that FMD was damaged 30 minutes after stress, but the high yellow alcohol group weakened this downward trend, and it was still significantly higher than the low yellow alcohol group 90 minutes after stress. Participants in the high flavanol group also increased blood flow in the forearm during rest and stress. The results of stress-induced cardiovascular and blood pressure reactions are similar. Flavanols can effectively counteract endothelial function damage caused by mental stress and improve peripheral blood flow during stress.
These results indicate that a flavanol-rich diet strategy during stressful periods can protect vascular health. The results of this study can be used as a daily dietary health strategy, because the daily dose can be achieved through the intake of various foods rich in flavanols, such as apples, black grapes, blackberries, cherries, pears, beans, green tea and unprocessed foods. cocoa.
Researchers said that this research is of great significance for those who are more susceptible to mental stress to take measures to protect blood vessels.
Cocoa powder can significantly relieve fatty liver in mice
In another new study published in”The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry”, researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the United States showed that cocoa supplementation in the diet of mice with liver disease Powder can significantly reduce the severity of liver disease in mice. They believe that the results also have reference significance for humans.
The corresponding author of the study, Joshua Lambert, Professor of Food Science at the College of Agricultural Sciences, said:“Although chocolate is generally considered an unhealthy food due to its high sugar and fat content, epidemiological and human intervention studies have shown that eating chocolate It is related to reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (including stroke, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes). Therefore, it is meaningful to study whether cocoa intake has an effect on non-alcoholic fatty liver, which is usually related to human obesity.”
In this study, researchers added 80 mg of cocoa powder to each gram of high-fat diet in mice for 10 weeks. During the period, they checked the changes in indicators such as fatty liver disease, oxidative stress markers, antioxidant response and cell damage in obese mice.
Researchers found that, compared with control mice fed the same high-fat diet, mice receiving cocoa treatment had a 21%reduction in weight gain and reduced spleen weight (indicating reduced inflammation). At the end of the study, the cocoa-fed mice had a 28%reduction in liver fat, a 56%reduction in oxidative stress, and a 75%reduction in DNA damage.
Although the mechanism by which cocoa is beneficial to health is not fully understood, past research in Lambert’s laboratory has shown that certain chemicals in cocoa extract and cocoa powder can inhibit enzymes responsible for digesting dietary fats and carbohydrates.
Researchers believe that when cocoa powder becomes part of the diet of mice, these compounds in cocoa powder will prevent the fat in the diet from being digested. When fat is not absorbed, it passes through the digestive system of mice. Lambert speculates that a similar process may occur when humans consume cocoa powder.
Lambert emphasized that it is not recommended for obese people (or anyone) to simply increase five cups of hot cocoa in their daily lives, and nothing else. Based on the information learned in this study, he suggested that people consider using cocoa instead of other foods, especially high-calorie snacks.