Researchers have some news for chocolate lovers: it may be good for you.
Scientists reported preliminary evidence recently that cocoa and other chocolates may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing and your heart healthy.
The research, which correlates eating flavonoid-rich foods with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease(1), was presented in February 2002 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston.
This study compared how blood platelets responded to a flavonol-rich cocoa drink with 25grams of semi-sweet chocolate pieces and a blood-thinning, 81-milligram aspirin dose.
The research found similar reactions to the two, from a group of 20- to 40-year-olds: both the drink and the aspirin prevented platelets from sticking together or clotting, other wise can impede blood flow.
Flavonol-rich cocoa and chocolate act similarly to low-dose aspirin in promoting healthy blood flow. Reducing the blood's ability to clot also reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Lead study author Dr. Carl Keen cautioned that his team isn't suggesting that people eat a couple of candy bars instead of taking their daily dose of aspirin.
"We're not advocating that people consume flavonol-rich foods in place of aspirin," stressed Keen, who is also the University of California-Davis nutrition department chairman. For people who cannot take aspirin, however, he said eating flavonol-rich foods "may be a useful approach."
He noted one important difference between aspirin and flavonol-rich foods: "The effects you see in aspirin are longer-lasting than the effects you see in flavonols," he said.
Although the trial involved just 40 people, Keen called the results "remarkably robust" and said the platelet effect may be related to the nitric oxide benefits found by Hollenberg's study.
See Nitric Oxide Benefits In the next Article.
A Chocolate Hint:
Generally, science has found that dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate. Because of the way that cocoa powder and chocolate syrups are manufactured removes most flavonoids.
Don't replace healthy foods with store bought chocolate.
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