Individuals can use cocoa flavanols to maintain and improve overall health, including heart, brain, muscle, skin and eye health. Cocoa flavanols also help fight ailments associated with inflammation or impaired immune function, and there have been reports that they can help relieve diarrhea.
Cocoa flavanols have a preventative effect on cardiovascular disease because they have an ability to alter the pathological processes involved in the disease's development. They inhibit the oxidation of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol by free radicals, which is the cause of artherosclerotic plaque. They also cut down on the tendency for platelets to become blood clots.
Further, cocoa flavanols help regulate inflammatory and immune responses in blood vessel walls and they help regulate vascular tone, which contributes to high blood pressure. A recent application for cocoa flavanols is in the treatment of diarrhea. The flavanols do this by inhibiting fluid secretion in the small intestine.
Cocoa flavanols act as powerful antioxidants, which help in the body's fight against free radicals and help prevent damage to cell DNA. Free radicals play a role in the aging process and in the formation of degenerative and age-related diseases. Flavanols mop up free radicals in cells in the same way that antioxidants do.