Animal Model for Benefits of Chocolate for Cardiovascular System

chocolate rabbit

We already discussed the reduction of the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases by dark chocolate. In a recent publication the results of a study with cacao liquor polyphenol fed Kurosawa and Kusanagi- hypercholesterolaemic rabbits were published.

After 6 months of dietary administration of cacao liquor polyphenols, heart rate and blood pressure were lowered but plasma lipid concentrations were unchanged. The area of atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta in the cacao liquor polyphenol group was significantly smaller than that in the standard diet group. The high-frequency power of heart rate variability in the rabbits
in the standard diet group was significantly decreased with ageing, but that in the cacao liquor polyphenol group was not different between short-term and long-term treatment.

In comparison to the control group which were rabbits on a normal diet, the rabbits with cacoa polyphenolen added to their diet did much better as far as cardiovascular disease risk factors. Atheroslerotic lesions in the aorta were much smaller in the cocoa fed rabbits, heart rate variability didn’t decrease as much with ageing as the rabbits on normal diet. The decrease of autonomic nervous activity for the heart as expressed in a lower heart rate variability may contribute to the development of atheroma in Kurosawa and Kusanagi-hypercholesterolaemic rabbits.

From the long-term oral administration of cacao liquor polyphenols to rabbits the conclusion was that it had various effects on the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous function in Kurosawa and Kusanagi hypercholesterolaemic rabbits. The cacao liquor polyphenols decreased heart rate and blood pressure and suppressed the impairment of baroreflex function and parasympathetic nervous function without a decrease of serum lipids. These changes were associated with suppression of the development of atherosclerosis. The effect of polyphenolen from cacao could be explained by an effect on cardiovascular and autonomic nervousfunctions. This may result in a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This adds some new perspectives on the hypothesis about the beneficial effects of chocolate on the heart.

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Red Wine and Dark Chocolate for Vascular Health
Megumi Akita, Masayoshi Kuwahara, Fumi Itoh, Yoshihisa Nakano, Naomi Osakabe, Tohru Kurosawa, Hirokazu Tsubone (2008). Effects of Cacao Liquor Polyphenols on Cardiovascular and Autonomic Nervous Functions in Hypercholesterolaemic Rabbits Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, 103 (6), 581-587 DOI: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2008.00331.x