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Do you like dark chocolate? Then you’re helping your heart. Scientists have long known that eating dark chocolate can be good for you–and now they know why.
“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, one of the researchers, in a news release. “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.”
In order to better understand the (delicious) effects of chocolate, the researchers analyzed 44 middle-aged, overweight men over two periods of four weeks. These lucky individuals ate 70 grams of chocolate per day, either munching on specially produced dark chocolate with high flavanols or chocolate that was regularly produced.
The researchers found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. That’s huge news when it comes to heart health; both arterial stiffness and white blood adhesion are known to play a role in atherosclerosis. In addition, it seemed as if the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this particular effect.
“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, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, in a news release. “Until the dark chocolate drug is developed, however, we’ll just have to make do what nature has given us!”
The findings reveal a bit more about the delicious and healthy nature of dark chocolate-so eat up! You may just be helping out your heart when you eat some dark chocolate.