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Dark chocolate may help patients with peripheral artery disease

Harold Mandel's picture
Delicious dark chocolate

There has been a lot of talk about the benefits of dark chocolate to help nurture good heart and brain health. This along with the high feeling you get from eating delicious dark chocolate makes it a really great snack. New research shows that dark chocolate is also helpful for patients suffering from peripheral artery disease.

Dark chocolate causes artery dilation

Consumption of dark chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy in patients who are suffering from peripheral artery disease reported the Journal of the American Heart Association. It is known that dark chocolate exerts artery dilation. Researchers investigated whether dark chocolate improves walking autonomy in patients suffering from peripheral artery disease. It was concluded that in patients suffering from this disorder dark but not milk chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy.

Polyphenols in dark chocolate may help peripheral artery disease patients

The polyphenols in dark chocolate could yield a small benefit for people suffering from peripheral artery disease reports the American Heart Association in a discussion of this research. Polyphenols are compounds which are found in cocoa and other foods. These polyphenols may help people suffering from peripheral artery disease walk a little longer and farther before pain sets in. Further research is necessary to determine whether or not long-term use of these compounds in dark chocolate can improve circulation and aid patients in coping better with their condition.

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Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols

According to this study people with artery problems in their legs walked a little longer and farther when they consumed dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a food which is rich in polyphenols. With peripheral artery disease we see a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, arms, stomach, and head. This is most often seen in the arteries of the legs. The resulting decreased blood flow may cause pain, cramping or fatigue in the legs or hips while a person is walking.

In the study patients were tested on a treadmill in the morning and again two hours after eating 40 grams of dark and milk chocolate, which is about the size of an average American plain chocolate bar. The dark chocolate which was used had a cocoa content of greater than 85 percent, therefore making it rich in polyphenols. The researchers have suggested that polyphenols may decrease oxidative stress and improve blood flow in peripheral arteries. There were fewer polyphenols in the milk chocolate which had a cocoa content below 30 percent.

Dark chocolate polyphenols has potential relevance for quality of life in peripheral artery disease patients

After the participants ate the dark chocolate they were observed to walk an average 11 percent farther and 15 percent longer than they could earlier in the day. However, both distance and time didn’t improve after eating milk chocolate. Although the improvements with dark chocolate were modest Lorenzo Loffredo, M.D., the study’s co-author, said the benefit of dark chocolate polyphenols has potential relevance for the quality of life of these patients suffering from peripheral artery disease.

It is very interesting that eating something as delicious as dark chocolate may have significant health benefits. Peripheral artery disease is a very uncomfortable condition and treatment with tasty chocolate could take the edge off of the pain and suffering associated with this condition. However, you should always remember that chocolate is high in calories. Eating chocolate in moderation may however be very beneficial anyway.