Many of my patients come to me with problems associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and numbness and tingling in their lower extremities, and they all share a common problem — impaired microcirculation.
I’ve spoken about this topic many times before — and for good reason. Your microcirculation consists of the tiny blood vessels and capillaries responsible for pumping oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. And keeping it in good working order is the underlying key to controlling, and even reversing, so many medical disorders.
Of course, if you’ve been reading the Reality Health Check for a while, you’re probably assuming I’m going to recommend Pycnogenol. After all, supporting microcirculation is one of its major benefits. But today I actually want to talk about a new study that showed drinking a beverage rich in cocoa flavanols can improve blood vessel function and reduce diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) in people with kidney failure.
While this particular study looked just at kidney failure, the results still apply to the rest of us too. Plus, you would be surprised just how many people have kidney function that isn’t up to snuff.
Anyone with high blood pressure or diabetes faces increased risk on a daily basis of their kidneys not working at full capacity — without you ever feeling a symptom.
So, as with many diseases, kidney deterioration is a silent killer that you really ought to pay attention to.
And who wouldn’t want to pay attention when the solution involves chocolate? Let’s take a closer look at the details from this new study…
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, German researchers concocted a low-sugar drink that contained 900mg of cocoa flavanols. They then recruited 52 patients who were undergoing dialysis 3 times a week.
The patients drank either the cocoa mix or placebo once a day for a month.
After 30 days the researchers found the patients in the cocoa group had 53% improvement in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), compared with just 3.3% improvement in the placebo group. (FMD measures how well your arteries are able to open and close.)
The researchers believe one reason for these dramatic results is that the flavanols in cocoa stimulate the production of nitric oxide (NO), which helps relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
This news could be a turning point for dialysis patients, because until now, statin drugs have been the mainstream go-to treatment to help “protect” the heart health of people with kidney disease. Meanwhile, kidney failure is one of statins’ most notorious side effects! Not to mention their heart health “benefits” are questionable (at best) to begin with.
So I’m glad to see research about a simple, safe alternative that actually does improve microcirculation, heart function, and kidney health.
Of course, just to be clear, we are talking about cocoa flavanols here. I’m not talking about Swiss Miss, which is basically just chocolate-flavored sugar water with no nutritional value.
I know pure flavanol-rich cocoa powder is too bitter to drink by itself. But add a bit of stevia, and mix it in some unsweetened almond milk and you’ve got a delicious treat with some truly powerful healing benefits.