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Cocoa compound increases brain blood flow

11:17am, February 26, 2007

From San Francisco, at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Cocoa that retains compounds usually removed to soften the product's flavor can significantly improve blood flow to the brain, say researchers. The finding could eventually lead to treatments for a variety of ills, including strokes and dementia.

Since the early 1990s, Norman Hollenberg of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his colleagues have been studying the Kuna, native people that live on islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. Unlike typical Americans, the Kuna people have a low incidence of high blood pressure and their blood pressure doesn't usually rise with age. These factors lower their risk of diseases associated with high blood pressure, such as heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, and some types of dementia.

Hollenberg's team noticed that Kuna who moved away from the islands onto the Panamanian mainland lost this protection from high blood pressure.

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