The (healthy) heart of darkness

A new study offers more understanding about how dark chocolate helps our cardiovascular system.

Just in time to fill Easter baskets with dark chocolate treats, a new study suggests more about the ways the stuff helps our hearts. A new study from The Netherlands suggests that the sweet stuff helps restore flexibility to arteries and prevents white blood cells from sticking to blood vessel walls. Stiff arteries and blood vessels blotched with the graffiti of white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis, according to a release about the study from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, whose journal published the research. The study was noted on

"We provide a more complete picture of the impact of chocolate consumption in vascular health and show that increasing flavanol content has no added beneficial effect on vascular health," said Diederik Esser, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Top Institute Food and Nutrition and Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition in Wageningen, The Netherlands. "However, this increased flavanol content clearly affected taste and thereby the motivation to eat these chocolates. So the dark side of chocolate is a healthy one."

"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," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Until the 'dark chocolate drug' is developed, however, we'll just have to make do with what nature has given us!"

The nutritional benefits of dark chocolate are as varied as luscious ways to eat it.

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