HealthDay News – Cocoa consumption may improve walking performance in individuals with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a study published online February 14 in Circulation Research.

Mary M. McDermott, MD, from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a phase 2 randomized clinical trial to compare the impact of 6 months of cocoa to placebo for walking performance in participants with PAD. Participants were randomly assigned to either a cocoa beverage containing 15g cocoa and 75mg epicatechin daily or a placebo beverage containing neither cocoa nor epicatechin.

Forty of the 44 participants who were randomized completed follow-up. The researchers found that at 6-month follow-up, compared with placebo, cocoa improved 6-minute walk distance by 42.6 m (90% CI, +22.2 to +∞; P =.005) at 2.5 hours after a final study beverage and by 18.0m (90% CI, −1.7 to +∞; P =.12) at 24 hours after a study beverage in analyses adjusted for smoking, race, and body mass index. Compared with placebo, coca improved mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase activity, increased capillary density, improved calf muscle perfusion, and reduced central nuclei in calf muscle biopsies.

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“If our results are confirmed in a larger trial, these findings suggest that cocoa, a relatively inexpensive, safe and accessible product, could potentially produce significant improvements in calf muscle health, blood flow, and walking performance for PAD patients,” McDermott said in a statement.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the biotechnology industry.

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