Dark chocolate could fight artery disease
The evidence keeps building that dark chocolate can be good for your health. The latest indication comes through a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that found that people with peripheral artery disease (PAD) who ate dark chocolate were able to walk farther than when they didn't eat it.
PAD, which affects more than 8 million Americans, is marked by reduced blood flow to the arms, head, stomach and the legs. The effect is most often felt in a patient's legs, usually in cramping or pain when they attempt to walk long distances or climb stairs.
For the study, researchers at Sapienza University in Rome recruited 14 men and six women with PAD. They all were given a blood test, then, over two days, underwent a series of walking on a treadmill. First, they were asked to walk as far as they could on the treadmill. When they were done, the participants were each given a small bar of dark chocolate and two hours later got back on the treadmill and walked for as long as they could. On the second day the process was repeated, only this time the study participants were given a milk chocolate bar.
The researchers said that after eating the dark chocolate, the patients were able to walk an average of 17 seconds and 39 feet farther, but showed no improvement after consuming milk chocolate. The scientists suggested that the high level of polyphenols--a type of antioxidant--in dark chocolate was a likely factor. They noted that after eating the dark chocolate, the patients had higher levels of nitric oxide in their blood, an indication of better blood flow.
A spokesperson for the American Heart Association, however, pointed out that the results are "extremely preliminary."