Can cocoa polyphenols and epicatechin relax our blood vessels?
How do cocoa polyphenols and epicatechin protect against cardiovascular diseases? Cocoa polyphenols, especially epicatechin, help to restore vascular endothelial function in humans1,2.
In layman’s terms, these bioactives expand the blood vessels by relaxing the muscles within these vessels. The expansion of blood vessels reduces the resistance of the blood flowing through them, which in turn decreases the blood pressures.
Various clinical trials had reported that cocoa polyphenol intakes and epicatechin supplementation significantly decreased blood pressures in humans3.
1 Loke, Wai Mun, Hodgson, Jonathan M., Proudfoot, Julie M., McKinley, Allan J., Puddey, Ian B. & Croft, Kevin D.. 2008. Pure dietary flavonoids quercetin and (-)-epicatechin augment nitric oxide products and reduce endothelin-1 acutely in healthy men. Am J Clin Nutr 88: 1018-1025.
2 Schroeter, H., Heiss, C., Balzer, J., Kleinbongard, P., Keen, C. L., Hollenberg, N. K., Sies, H., Kwik-Uribe, C., Schmitz, H. H. & Kelm, M.. 2006. (-)-Epicatechin mediates beneficial effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in humans. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 1024–1029.