Cocoa flavanols improve vascular function in kidney disease patients

A German study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has found that dietary intake of cocoa flavanols improves blood vessel function in patients with kidney disease.

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 57 participants who were on chronic haemodialysis and undergoing dialysis treatment three times a week. During the study, the participants received either cocoa flavanol-rich beverages (900mg of cocoa flavanols per study day) or placebo for 30 days.

The researchers found that the group taking the cocoa-flavanol-rich drinks had a 53% improvement in flow-mediated dilation, compared with just a 3.3% improvement in the placebo group. The acute improvement in vascular function following ingestion of the cocoa flavanol-rich beverages was associated with an increase in plasma flavanol metabolites.

The ingestion of cocoa flavanols was well tolerated by the patients and no differences were found in plasma potassium or pH levels and there was no effect on blood pressure or heart rate.

Lead researcher Dr Tienush Rassaf commented: “Impressively, the degree of reversion of vessel dysfunction was comparable to the effects observed through administering statins or making dietary and lifestyle changes.”