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A Chocolate Pill for the Over 50 Population?

We all know by now that dark chocolate is said to have certain health benefits….but a chocolate pill? Researchers have linked regular consumption of chocolate to a reduced risk of heart disease. Which is great news, right?! Well, yes and no. Natural cocoa contains compounds known as flavanols or polyphenols. These have been shown to improve vascular health by increasing blood flow. That’s the good. The bad is that it’s hard to consume these benefits in large amounts.

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, explains further. “What we’ve seen is that intake of dark chocolate is associated with a greater ability of blood vessels to dilate when they should,” This may be a defense against cardiovascular disease.

The problem is that chocolate in the form we are used to, mainly candy bars, etc. is also full of fat and sugar which we know we should stay away from. So how do we enjoy the benefits of pure chocolate without the negative health effects? Well, there are chocolate bars available that contain 90% cacao for one. This is the best kind of chocolate to eat, if you are going to.

A new option is something that researchers are currently working on…chocolate in a pill form. The purpose of the study is to give us all the health benefits of dark chocolate without having to eat large amounts of it.

chocolate pill

A group of researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are testing a new pill that contains the powerful cocoa compounds that don’t have the calories or fat. The four-year study includes women 65 years or older and men 60 years and older. No prior heart attack ever or cancer during the past two years was also required.  The participants will take a capsule that contains the same amount of cocoa extract that would typically be found in 1,000 calories of dark chocolate.

“We’ll be rigorously testing whether the cocoa flavanols do reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, cognitive decline and many other conditions over time,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, who will give half the participants the real cocoa capsule, and half a placebo pill. Major candy maker Mars Inc., along with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. are providing funding for the product.

This study will last a few more years. It needs to confirm if concentrated amounts of cocoa actually do make a difference in the cardiovascular health of patients. If all goes well, it’s very likely that a “chocolate pill” will be available for purchase in the near future!

Just be aware that these chocolate pills won’t taste like milky chocolate bars! However, researchers believe the product could provide a new holistic approach to heart health. We look forward to the day that chocolate pills are stocked on grocery store shelves! In the meantime, we’ll have to get our cocoa flavenols the old-fashioned way.

Yes, let’s bring on the dark chocolate pill for tasty, healthy living!

Featured Image Photo by Michal Grosicki on Unsplash

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