The risk of heart failure in patients who have kidney disease may be lowered by nutrients found in cocoa, a new study finds.
Patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), the last stage of chronic kidney disease, are a lot more susceptible to heart disease. The American Society of Neurology stated that apart from kidney transplant, there are not many effective treatment options.
In the new study – published December 17 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) – the researchers analysed the effects of two heart-healthy nutrients found in cocoa: epicatechin and catechin, both from a group of compounds known as flavanols.
They made a drink with epicatechin and catechin and gave it to twenty-six individuals with end-stage renal disease. In just a month, the drinks managed to significantly lower blood pressure and improve blood flow in all of the patients. A placebo drink given to a control group of 26 individuals had no effect.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that about 20 million adult Americans, or 10 percent, have some type of kidney disease. Stage 5 or end-stage kidney disease – which is the most severe – requires either regular dialysis (a process in which waste and excess water is removed from the patient’s blood), or kidney transplant.
High blood pressure and diabetes can often lead to kidney disease. When kidneys do not function properly a lot of waste is left in the blood stream, which causes the arteries to harden, leading to heart failure.
A previous study called FLAVIOLA Health Study (FHS) found that epicatechin and catechin from cocoa can improve blood flow, reduce artery stiffens, and lower blood pressure.
The study led by Dr. Tienush Rassaf of the University Hospital Essen in Germany, was the first to show that epicatechin and catechin found in cocoa benefited kidney patients. The participants were give a drink made of cocoa powder that was provided by Mars Symbioscience. The beverage had cocoa flavanols, as well as some other nutrients.
According to Dr. Rassaf, is may be that epicatechin and catechin generate the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is known to increase blood flow in fight-or-flight situations or during exercise.
Overall the study shows that cocoa is beneficial for kidney disease patients, but the researchers note that processed chocolate lacks cocoa flavanols, so it should not be viewed as a reliable source of epicatechin and catechin.
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