Biochemist Hagen Schroeter of the University of California, Davis has demonstrated a direct relationship between the intake of certain flavanols present in cocoa, their absorption into the circulation and their effects on cardiovascular functions based on a study on volunteers from the Kuna Indians who live on the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama. They consume large amount of flavanol-rich cocoa of 3 to 4 cups a day. They have twice the level of urinary nitric oxide, a chemical associated with healthy flow of blood through the arteries. They found that higher levels of epicatechin, one of the flavanols, were accompanied by improved blood flow and allow vascular tissue to relax. The test also show that pure epicatechin consumed by people had much the same effect as flavanol-rich cocoa, providing direct proof that epicatechin is responsible for the beneficial vascular effects that are seen after consumption of flavanol-rich cocoas.
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