Secret of Why Dark Chocolate Is Good For You
The next time you eat dark chocolate, visualize your arteries becoming more flexible. That is probably not the image that comes to mind when you are enjoying your sweet treat, yet it is one that researchers are talking about since they uncovered the secret of why dark chocolate is good for your health.
Before you run to the store to stock up on candy bars, it’s important to point out that the benefits of the sweet are associated with dark chocolate and not milk chocolate. In addition, the more the cocoa is processed through roasting, fermentation, and alkalizing, the more the beneficial compounds called flavanols are destroyed.
The randomized, double-blind, crossover study involved 44 overweight men (ages 45 to 70) who consumed 70 grams daily of either flavanol-enriched or regular dark chocolate over two different four-week periods. Researchers documented the changes in a number of heart-related factors, which are explained below. They also wanted to see if chocolate enriched with flavanols provided any additional benefits.
Here’s what they found:
- Eating dark chocolate for four weeks increased flow-mediated dilation by 1 percent and decreased augmentation index by 1 percent
- Consuming dark chocolate also lowered leukocyte cell count, plasma sICAM1 and sICAM3 (soluble intracellular adhesion molecules) and leukocyte adhesion marker expression
Overall, these findings mean that researchers now have a better understanding of how dark chocolate can benefit the heart and specifically endothelial health. They also found that increasing the flavanol content of the chocolate did not improve the benefits and actually made the chocolate less palatable.
The observed changes associated with eating dark chocolate in this study showed that it helped restore flexibility to the arteries and also assisted in stopping white blood cells from adhering to the walls of the blood vessels. Stiff arteries and an accumulation of white blood cells on the walls of blood vessel walls are both significant risk factors for atherosclerosis.
Benefits of dark chocolate
Numerous previous studies have pointed out health benefits of dark chocolate. For example: