Skip to comments.How Dark Chocolate, Not Milk Chocolate, May Help Blood Flow
Posted on 07/02/2014 4:44:57 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The idea that eating cocoa-rich, dark chocolate may offer greater health benefits than milk chocolate is not new.
Cocoa is loaded with compounds called polyphenols that have been shown to help our bodies fend off inflammation and maybe even improve our moods.
And now a small study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association offers evidence of another possible benefit: improving vascular health by increasing blood flow.
Researchers studied patients with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, which affects about 20 percent of adults older than 70 in the U.S. and other Western countries. People who have PAD can have trouble walking and exercising since blood flow to their limbs becomes impaired. Cramping can be a problem, too.
As part of the study, researchers gave half of the 20 participants 40 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of dark chocolate that had at least 85 percent cocoa. The other half of the group received 40 grams of milk chocolate that had less than 30 percent cocoa. The aim was to test whether the dark chocolate could improve those patients' ability to walk on their own on a treadmill.
"After eating the dark chocolate, [the participants] walked an average 11 percent farther," study author Lorenzo Loffredo of Sapienza University of Rome tells The Salt in an email. And yes, he says they were surprised by the findings.
He and his colleagues observed improved blood flow among the participants who ate the dark chocolate. "Conversely, we did not observe effects on blood flow and on walking autonomy in PAD patients after milk chocolate consumption."
There are more than three dozen polyphenols in red wine that could be beneficial. But resveratrol may not have much influence on our health. The Salt Resveratrol May Not Be The Elixir In Red Wine And Chocolate Researchers say some compounds in cocoa may help us fend off fat. The Salt Does A Chocolate Habit Help Keep You Lean? So what explains the link between dark chocolate and improved walking?
The researchers say the polyphenols in dark chocolate can help reduce oxidative stress and help the body form more nitric oxide, a compound that causes blood vessels to dilate.
Interestingly, as I reported a few years back, there's another kind of intervention that leads to a similar effect: meditation.
That's right, slowing down and centering yourself, or being in the moment, as mindfulness meditation teaches, has been shown to have the same nitric oxide-producing effect in the body.
And this may be beneficial for lots of people, not just those with PAD. When blood vessels open up, blood pressure tends to go down.
As hypertension expert Randy Zusman explained it when I reported on the meditation study, you can think of it as a plumbing issue. "You're pushing the same amount of blood through a bigger pipe," he said. "That's what nitric oxide ... does in response to relaxation." And, it seems, dark chocolate helps that process along.
Now, back to the PAD study, which was funded by a grant from the Sapienza University of Rome. Do the results suggest that chocolate could be used as treatment?
Not so fast. As physician Mark Creager of Brigham and Women's Hospital, who reviewed the study, points out, "The overall effect [of the dark chocolate] was relatively modest."
In an email, he pointed out to us that the 11 percent increase in walking distance doesn't add up to much only about 40 extra feet.
"To put this in context," says Creager, "with other forms of treatment, such as supervised exercise training, maximal walking distance increases by approximately 100 percent."
Creager says the new study highlights the potential role of antioxidant treatment, but he says follow-up studies, including a larger number of participants, would be needed to see if the findings hold up.
Along with beer, this is proof God loves us!
Cocoa tastes great in coffee.
More fun than viagra for circulation “issues” too.
40g of 80% dark chocolate can have almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. That should easily get you an extra 40ft on a treadmill.
Paraphrasing Franklin is always good for the 4th of July.
Yes! The two just go together so well.
They just didn’t give them enough milk chocolate. More is better.
They sure do ... and coffee goes well with chocolate. I recently made a batch of tiramisu brownies -- they were to die for!
Sorry for the off topic drool inducer ... we now return you to your regular programming ;-)
But it’s bitter, and nasty. How can anyone eat it?
Buy squares of unsweetened bakers dark chocolate. Chop up 2-3 squares. Drizzle honey, molasses or maple syrup over them. Pinch of salt. Eat with spoon
You can add
LOL, they sound delicious.
We got a new Fresh Market store, and I went in there to check it out. They have the coffee and the chocolate stocked next to each other, and the aromas blend perfectly.
Cocoa has no sugar and very little fat.
Good for you.
But people somehow think that eating a Hershey bar is good for them. Or especially more expensive designer chocolate bars. Advertising and marketing suggests as much.
Just get powdered cocoa in the bulk bins, the kind without sugar. I like it in coffee or even stirred into a glass of nonfat milk. No sugar. Tried it in oatmeal, but don’t like it. You might:)
If you drink a glass of milk with it does it still do anything?
Unfortunately, those of us “hypertasters” can’t tolerate dark chocolate. An extract would be nice. I don’t know about straight cocoa.
Sounds like good product placement to me ;-)
Used to live in your neck of the woods...Los Gatos/Saratoga/Los Altos...
Good to know someone there still knows some American History...
Happy Independence Day!
Happy Independence Day!