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Flavanols Improve CV Function in Coronary Disease Patients

High intake facilitates endothelial vasomotor function, CV self-repair mechanisms

WEDNESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- In coronary artery disease (CAD) patients, regular dietary intake of flavanols is associated with improvements in endothelial dysfunction and mobilization of functional circulating angiogenic cells (CACs), according to a study in the July 13 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Christian Heiss, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, crossover study, in which 16 CAD patients (mean age, 64 years) drank a high-flavanol (375 mg) cocoa drink twice daily and a low-flavanol (9 mg) cocoa drink twice daily in random order for a month.

The researchers found that endothelial vasomotor function, assessed by flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery, improved 47 percent during the high-flavanol period compared to the low-flavanol period. Also, the number of CD34+/KDR+-CACs increased 2.2-fold after the high-flavanol period compared to the low-flavanol period. High-flavanol intake also led to a decrease in systolic blood pressure and an increase in plasma nitrite level.

"Collectively, sustained improvements in endothelial dysfunction by regular dietary intake of flavanols are associated with the mobilization of functional CACs in CAD patients. Our data support the concept that dietary flavanols, in addition to improving cardiovascular functions, can facilitate endogenous repair mechanisms that act synergistically with current medical therapy. Long-term intervention trials examining the effects of high-flavanol diets on cardiovascular health and function are warranted," the authors write.

Mars Inc. partly supported the study and provided cocoa beverage powder. One study author is a Mars employee, one disclosed financial ties to Mars, and one disclosed financial ties to N30 Pharmaceuticals.

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