Dark chocolate is good for the heart.
The new study, which was conducted in the Netherlands, found that dark chocolate keeps arteries supple and flexible and prevents white blood cells from adhering to blood vessel walls – both important factors in the development of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
Forty-four middle-aged (ages 45-70), overweight men took part in the study. They ate 70 grams of chocolate a day for two (separated) two-week periods. Seventy grams is approximately 2.5 ounces or a little less than the weight of one whole regular-sized Hershey chocolate bar plus another half a bar.
In addition, the researchers studied whether enriching the chocolate with flavanols, the healthy substances made by plants, which are also called phytochemicals, affected the subjects’ willingness to eat the chocolate. The findings showed that the flavanols did affect the taste of dark chocolate and negatively impacted the subjects’ motivation to eat it.
“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” Gerald Weissmann, M.D., JFASEB Editor-in-Chief was quoted as saying on the Red Orbit website.
While the study does not encourage consuming all the dark chocolate one can eat, it does indicate that having a piece now and then won’t hurt, and most likely will help.
This article first appeared in my food column written for Examiner.com. You can read it here.