Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Can Chocolate Do To Cut Cardiovascular Disease Risk?

Chocolate is something that most people hard to resist. It is estimated that a typical American consumes over 10 pounds of chocolate annually. This leads to an interesting question: Would chocolate pose any threat to our health?

According to scientists, chocolate contains compounds called "flavanols" that is a naturally occurring antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Many large-scale studies have linked consumption of flavanol to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, only few studies have tested the direct effect of chocolate consumption.

That is why researchers from San Diego State University intend to find out whether chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, might protect against the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) by lowering blood pressure, blood flow, and improving blood lipid levels.

31 participants were randomly assigned to consume for 15 days a daily serving (50 grams) of regular dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa), dark chocolate (containing 70 percent of cocoa) that had been overheated or bloomed, or white chocolate (containing 0 percent of cocoa).

At the outset of the study, researchers recorded these participants’ readings on blood pressure, forearm skin blood flow, circulating lipid profiles, and blood glucose levels.

With reference to participants assigned to white chocolate group, those consuming either form of dark chocolate had lower blood glucose and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or the bad cholesterol) levels coupled with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL or the good cholesterol).

The findings, which were presented on April 24, 2012 at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego, CA, indicated that dark chocolate might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the glucose levels and lipid profiles.

Meanwhile, the researchers warned that people should consume dark chocolate in moderation because chocolate can easily raise daily amounts of saturated fat and calories. Remember this, the study participants were allowed to consume not more than 50 grams of chocolate a day.

The researchers are planning follow-up studies involving more participants and a longer duration of chocolate consumption.

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