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Eating Dark Chocolate Has Health Benefits for Men

Update Date: Dec 24, 2012 05:42 AM EST

Chocolates being the best gift for women may soon be a thing of the past, as scientists discover that the sweet bar of sins has significant health benefits for men as well. So you may soon see pumped up men with chocolate bars, for all good reasons.

A new study by researchers from University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health suggests that men who consume dark chocolate reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. Dark chocolate apparently has anti-clotting effect, which gets activated within two hours of consumption in both sexes, but the effect is more pronounced in men.

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 "It's an acute effect in the body that men and women both benefit from, but it's more diluted in women. These findings are not a carte blanche to eat chocolates as they are extremely rich in fat and sugar. But probably eating a little bit of dark chocolate containing at least 70 per cent cocoa every day is going to do more good than harm," lead researcher Dr Baukje de Roos, from the Rowett Institute, was quoted as saying by Mail Online.

For this study, scientists from Rowett, collaborated with the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, and investigated into the aftereffects of consumption of dark chocolate, specially boosted with cocoa extract in the blood of 42 healthy volunteers, 26 women and 16 men.

The researchers particularly studied the effect of chocolate on blood clotting, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Cocoa-rich chocolates are rich in compounds called flavanols, which are also found in tea and apples. Flavanols effect platelet function in people positively.

The researchers compared the platelet function of study participants who ate enriched dark chocolate with those who had eaten dark chocolate - with a lower cocoa and flavanol content - and white chocolate.

For the results, the blood and urine samples of participants were examined two and six hours after chocolate consumption, the report said.

The scientists were looking at a range of platelet function tests such as platelet activation and platelet aggregation.

The findings of the study revealed that men who consumed enriched dark chocolate significantly decreased both platelet activation (a reversible process where platelets are starting to get stressed and sticky) and aggregation (an irreversible process when sticky platelets clump together). However, in women, it only cut platelet aggregation.

Also, the effect was apparently stronger two hours after the consumption of chocolate, said the report.

Apart from this, bleeding time was also tested by the researchers. Bleeding time shortens with thicker platelets.

It was found that dark chocolate enriched with cocoa significantly increased bleeding time in both sexes, six hours after eating it.

"Cocoa is a rich source of flavanols and we already knew that flavanols can stop platelets sticking together but we didn't know how they did this. It was especially interesting to see that both men and women had improvements in their platelet function, but in different ways. The strength of the effects seem to be more pronounced in men," Dr Baukje de Roos, said, according to Mail Online.

"Our study found that compounds deemed responsible for the beneficial effects, flavanols and their metabolites, are appearing in the blood stream and in our urine within hours of consumption, and are having a positive impact on platelet function effects," Dr de Roos further said.

However, the effects do not last for a long time. It may stay no longer than 2 days, indicating that people who want consistent effects should perhaps have a daily dose of it.

"We hope that our findings could ultimately help with the development of healthier foods and food supplements," added Dr de Roos.

The report is published in Molecular Nutrition Food Research.

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