Cocoa Flavanol - The New Wonder Nutrient?

If you've ever watched the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or read the book by Roald Dahl, you might remember the Chocolate River. Was it made out of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or cocoa flavanols?

Roald Dahl never says, but if it was made from cocoa flavanols, people on dialysis could drink from the Chocolate River to protect their health, according to a recent study.

A group of German researchers recently found that drinking cocoa flavanols can help improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk for heart problems for people with poorly-functioning kidneys.

In the study, they followed 57 people with kidney problems for 30 days. And they tracked blood vessel function and blood pressure. One group drank a cocoa-flavanol-rich beverage once a day. The other group had a similar drink but without cocoa flavanols. After a month, the group that drank cocoa flavanols had better blood vessel function and lower blood pressure. And it was significant, comparable to the effects of taking medication for a month.

And the control factor? Cocoa flavanols. You'll find cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate candy bars, drinks, powders, and supplements. This study and other suggest cocoa flavanols can provide protective health benefits to people on dialysis. But don't overdo it. In the study, 900 mg of cocoa flavanols a day was enough to make a difference. Too much chocolate of any kind, even healthy chocolate, can lead to weight gain and other problems.

You may not have a Chocolate River rich in cocoa flavanols running under your house, but you can still add a little bit of this to your daily diet. When you're on dialysis, you'll also want to make every effort to maintain the kidney function you do have left by eating the right foods. And it doesn't have to be hard. Just check out all the Dialysis-Friendly meals we have, perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.