Good News for Patients with Artery Disease: Dark Chocolate Might Help You to Have Better Blood Circulation While Walking

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A stack of chocolate bars sits on a table before being wrapped at the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory in the Brooklyn borough of New York July 8, 2010.
Dark Chocolate offers relief to the patients suffering from PAD. Reuters

According to a recent interesting survey from Italy, eating dark chocolate can improve blood circulation in the leg, an observation seems to be a blessing for older people especially those are suffering from peripheral artery disease (PAD). Patients suffering from PAD showed improved capability of walking, a couple of hours after taking some dark chocolate. This effect was absent when milk chocolate was consumed instead of dark one.

"Nutrients are key components of health and disease," said Dr. Lorenzo Loffredo, the study's lead author from Sapienza University in Rome.

He and his colleagues stated in the Journal of the American Heart Association that “compounds known at polyphenols, which are much more plentiful in dark chocolate than milk chocolate, may have something to do with the improved performance.”

"Our body secretes chemicals that naturally dilate blood vessels in response to certain stimuli, improving the blood flow to certain areas," said Dr. Richard Chazal, vice president of the American College of Cardiology. "Some of the chemicals inside dark chocolate could affect the way these enzymes are metabolized in the body," suggested Chazal, who was not part of the study.

The report suggests that “the study involved 14 men and six women who were in their late 60s, on average, and had them walk on a treadmill for as long as possible. The treadmill was set at about 2.2 miles per hour and a 12 per cent grade. Participants were then randomly assigned to eat a bar of either dark or milk chocolate and retook the treadmill test two hours later. The time and distance walked did not change between the first and second sessions for those who ate milk chocolate. Those who ate dark chocolate were able to walk for about 17 seconds longer and 39 feet farther than during their initial walk.”

Another fascinating outcome was dark chocolate consumption caused a raise in the level of Nitric Oxide, a gas known for its role in the improvement of blood flow.

"The results are certainly interesting but modest, in terms of the walking distance improved," said Creager, who serves as a spokesman for the American Heart Association. "With information such as this, one would anticipate these investigators will conduct a much larger trial with long-term treatment to confirm their observations."

Creager and Chazal also added that “chocolate is also high in fat and sugar and eating too much can contribute to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol.”

Therefore, further research is required to confirm whether dark chocolate can be considered as a potential therapeutic to treat disease like PAD.

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