Polyphenolic compound found in chocolate may protect against coronary disease

December 21, 2000

Polyphenolic compounds are widely distributed in fruits and vegetables and protect against coronary heart disease. Procyanidin, a biologically active polyphenolic compound, is found in chocolate. In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Schramm et al. fed chocolate to a group of volunteers to test the hypothesis that procyanidins promote long-term cardiovascular benefits.

Ten healthy subjects consumed 37 g of high- and low-procyanidin chocolate in treatments separated by 1 week. After 2 hours, plasma concentrations of a procyanidin metabolite were increased by 20 times in those who had consumed the high-procyanidin form of the chocolate, together with a significant reduction in serum leukotriene, an eicosanoid that promotes blood platelet aggregation. After 6 hours, all of the subjects' leukotriene/prostacyclin ratios had returned to preconsumption levels. The same changes in the leukotriene/prostacyclin ratio were obtained in cultured human aorta cells exposed to procyanidin. The authors suggest that frequent consumption of procyanidins may provide cardioprotective effects by inhibiting platelet aggregation.

Procyanidin is found in few common foods, and its content in commercial brands of chocolate varies widely. Future research can determine if procyanidins in other foods are as effective as those present in chocolate.
-end-
Schramm, Derek D. et al. Chocolate procyanidins decrease the leukotriene-prostacyclin ratio in humans and human endothelial cells. Am J Clin Nutr, 2001:73; 36-40.

This media release is provided by The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, to provide current information on nutrition-related research. This information should not be construed as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, consult your doctor. To see the complete text of this article, please go to: http://www.faseb.org/ajcn/January/11661-Keen.pdf or http://www.faseb.org/ajcn/January/12366-Jacques.pdf

For more information, please contact: derek@ipworld.com or paul@hmrc.tufts.edu

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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