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Consuming Cocoa Might Protect Men's Hearts From Consequences of Mental Stress

by Maureen Blas / Apr 13, 2021 06:01 AM EDT
Consuming Cocoa Might Protect Men's Hearts From Consequences of Mental Stress

Researchers discovered that consuming cocoa may protect men's blood vessels from the harmful effects of mental stress. 

Stressful events that can lead to psychological stress may include taking an exam, providing a presentation, or a job interview. This can accelerate heart rate and blood pressure and expand arteries. It is the body's natural response, but the blood vessel linings (endothelium), can undertake up to one hour and thirty minutes to bounce back following this type of stress.  

Cocoa, like green tea and other fruits, is rich in flavonols, which lower blood pressure and improves the functions of the blood vessels. The polyphenolic compounds reduce a person's susceptibility to heart diseases, heart attacks, and cardiovascular mortality.

The research indicates that consuming cocoa before a stressful event can enhance blood flow. It helps rehabilitate endothelial function in men aged below 45 years old afterward. Participants who consumed the high-flavanol-rich cocoa showed a smaller reduction in endothelial function compared to those who consumed the low-flavanol cocoa.

Dr. Catarina Rendeiro said, "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."

Rendeiro is the senior author of the university's School of Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences. She added that drinking cocoa has significant outcomes for measures to safeguard the blood vessels of those who are more exposed to the harmful effects of psychological stress. 

A well-functioning thin layer of cells that line the heart and blood vessels can do wonders. It enables the endothelium to help minimize the risk of diabetes, thrombosis, kidney failure, heart conditions, and other illnesses. 

Stress is extremely common nowadays and made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental stress involves sudden increases in heart rate and blood pressure in healthy adults. Moreover, stress can lead to temporary impairments in artery functions even after the circumstances of the stress have stopped. 

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