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Dark Chocolate is Good for the Heart

Update Date: Feb 27, 2014 11:51 AM EST

Several studies have repeatedly found evidence that eating dark chocolate in moderation is good for one's overall health. These studies reported that dark chocolate could boost people's immune system and reduce inflammation. In a new study, researchers reported that dark chocolate is good for heart health as well.

For this study, the researchers headed by Diederik Esser, Ph.D. recruited 44 middle-aged men who met the criteria for being overweight. The experiment involved eating 70 grams of chocolate per day over two sets of time periods that lasted four weeks each. The participants were randomly given one of two chocolate samples. One of the samples was dark chocolate made with high flavanol content while the other was dark chocolate produced the standard way. Both options had similar flavanol content. Throughout the study, all participants were asked to refrain from consuming energy dense foods in order to prevent weight gain.

The team measured several indicators of vascular health before and after the intervention periods. The researchers also measured the motivation levels in eating either chocolate sample. The team discovered that dark chocolate contributed to heart health by restoring flexibility to the arteries. Dark chocolate was also effective in prohibiting white blood cells from attaching themselves onto the walls of the blood vessels. The researchers stated that increasing flavanol content did not add on any extra benefits. However, the researchers found that extra flavanol appeared to boost motivation scores in eating the chocolate samples.

"The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results," Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal said according to the press release. "Until the 'dark chocolate drug' is developed, however, we'll just have to make do with what nature has given us!"

The study, "Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men," was published in The FASEB Journal.

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