Monday, March 3, 2014

In The News: More Evidence That Eating Chocolate May be Good For You, Especially When Heart Health Is Concerned!

Back in November I posted some interesting research that suggested eating chocolate may lower body fat and now there is more good news for all you chocolate lover out there- it may help the heart too!!

Researchers in the Netherlands have just published a study in the FASEB Journal (link to abstract HERE) that looked into various mechanisms for dark chocolate's beneficial impact on cardiovascular health.  A lot of past scientific study with has focused on flavonoids, naturally occurring antioxidants found in some plants, including cocoa, that are believed to be responsible for cardioprotective effects of chocolate, such as increasing endothelium-dependent vasodilation. These scientists "investigated whether consumption of regular dark chocolate also affects other markers of endothelial health, and whether chocolate enrichment with flavanols has additional benefits".  44 overweight men aged between 45 and 70 years were looked at over two periods of 4 weeks, and the men were required to eat either 70 g of regular dark chocolate each day or 70 g of specially produced dark chocolate with high levels of flavanol . (Both chocolates were similar in their cocoa content.) In addition, subjects were asked not to eat other high calorie foods during the study period, in order to prevent them from gaining weight.

The results were quite surprising- the dark chocolate helped restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels- both of which may decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. These were "new insights on how chocolate affects endothelial health!" And the scientists also found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect,  both types of chocolate produced the same heart benefits.

So I said it before and will say it again, enjoy a little chocolate by breaking of a small square from a high quality dark chocolate bar or in my Chocolate Walnut Coconut Bites and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Protein Bar recipes!


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