Daily chocolate helps the heart

A recent study finds "significant improvement" in the vascular health of young adults who ate a daily dose of dark chocolate for a month.

Buy your sweetie (or yourself!) dark chocolates this Valentines Day if you’re truly concerned about matters of the heart. This month’s HerbClip, from the American Botanical Council discusses research that suggests one month of daily dark chocolate improves vascular function. The journal Cardiology Research and Practice published the study.

Nuts, nougat and of course, pretzels are fabulous in chocolate, but it’s the flavanols within the heavenly stuff that seem to promote heart health.

Researchers at the Superior Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Portugal, enrolled 60 clinically healthy undergraduates (20 men and 40 women) in the randomized, placebo-controlled study. One group ate a daily placebo, the other ate 10 grams of dark chocolate with 75 percent or more cocoa, each day for a month. Researchers evaluated several vascular markers, including blood pressure, heart rate, brachial artery flow-mediated dilation and aortic pulse wave velocity.

They found that the chocolate did, indeed, make a difference, causing “significant improvements.” “We can suggest flavanol-containing cocoa as a promising and powerful option for cardiovascular primary prevention,” wrote the study’s authors.

Last year, a study from The Netherlands revealed more about exactly how dark chocolate helps our hearts. The research suggested that chocolate helps restore flexibilities to arteries and prevents white blood cells from sticking to blood vessel walls, both of which play a role in the development of artherosclerosis.

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