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Dutch Chocolate Study
Chocolate, the popular confectionary result of sweetening seeds from the cacao tree, has been lauded as many things: guilty pleasure, aphrodisiac, favorite food and even heart healthy snack. In the past, it could’ve seemed as if the masses would play up any feature of chocolate (and coffee for that matter) simply to justify them as fixtures in their lives, hence all the soft news headlines jumping out at you from the supermarket check-out counter. But a recent study published in The FASEB Journal and conducted by Prof. DiederikEsser’s research team at the Dutch Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University and the Top Institute Food and Nutrition may validate some of those claims.
The idea is that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, consumed in moderation means higher antioxidant intake as well as reduced risk of atherosclerosis. The Dutch study suggests this is because dark chocolate restores flexibility of the arteries and prevents white blood cells from clinging to the walls of our blood vessels.
To test the beneficial effects of dark chocolate, the researchers looked at 44 overweight men between the ages of 45 and 70. Over two periods of 4 weeks, 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—a naturally occurring antioxidant found in some plants.
According to the article on MedicalNewsToday by Honor Whiteman, “Results of the study revealed that both groups showed a 1% decrease in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a 1% decrease in augmentation index (AIX), reduced leukocyte (white blood cell) count, decreased plasma sICAM1 and sICAM3, and a reduced leukocyte adhesion marker expression.This means the consumption of dark chocolate lowered participants’ risk of atherosclerosis – a condition that can be caused by arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion. However, the researchers found that although the chocolate higher in flavanols increased sensory stimulation in participants, both types of chocolate produced the same heart benefits.”
Professor Esser had this to say:
“We provide a more complete picture of the impact of chocolate consumption in vascular health and show that increasing flavanol content has no added beneficial effect on vascular health. However, this increased flavanol content clearly affected taste and thereby the motivation to eat these chocolates. So the dark side of chocolate is a healthy one.”
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Healthy Diets7 Mar 2014|