Can Cocoa Extract and a Multivitamin Help Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 3, 2016

The COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) is the most extensive study to date testing the roles of cocoa extract and a multivitamin in improving health.

Contributor: Dr. JoAnn Manson is Chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). She is leading the COSMOS trial with BWH Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate epidemiologist at BWH.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center are collaborating in a new research study, known as the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), for the most extensive study to date testing the roles of cocoa extract and a multivitamin in improving health, including preventing heart disease and cancer.

Previous studies of cocoa flavanols conducted by researchers at BWH and other institutions have found that cocoa may reduce the risk of heart disease (including a short-term decrease in blood pressure), as well as slow age-related cognitive decline. BWH researchers have also previously found that multivitamin use modestly reduced cancer risk in a trial of more than 14,000 male physicians.

“COSMOS will allow us to further explore these promising nutritional supplements in both men and women as part of a large-scale national clinical trial,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, Chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH and Co-Director of COSMOS with BWH epidemiologist Dr. Howard Sesso.

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Eating for Health: Changing Your Diet with the Seasons

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 27, 2012

Colorful fall foods like pumpkin and squash are rich in phytonutrients, natural compounds that might help prevent cancer.

Phytonutrients are natural compounds that give plant-based foods their rich color, as well as their distinctive taste and smell. You can find phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, spices, and tea. Phytonutrients are important to maintaining good health. When we eat foods with phytonutrients, they help rid our bodies of dangerous substances called toxins.  Research also is being conducted to determine the role of phytonutrients in preventing cancer and improving cardiovascular and digestive health.

In the summer months, when fresh produce is abundant, people tend to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than when the cold weather sets in and the supply dwindles. But fall offers its own variety of fruits and vegetables rich in phytonutrients – squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, Swiss chard, kale, carrots, apples, parsnip, turnip, cranberries, and beets.

Pumpkin is rich in carotenoids, a particular type of phytonutrient. Research has shown that diets high in carotenoids may help prevent colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancers. Pumpkin is delicious when used to make soup, ravioli, bread or muffins. Also try toasted pumpkin seeds!

Baked butternut or acorn squash seasoned with cinnamon or nutmeg is a great side dish, as is a medley of roasted root vegetables. Squash also works well in pasta dishes. Baked sweet potato fries are a great treat.

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