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More good news for chocolate lovers! According to a new study, consuming moderate amounts of dark chocolate may reduce cardiovascular disease risk. This news comes just weeks after another study suggesting that chocolate can actually help you stay slim!
In the San Diego State University study, 31 participants were randomly assigned to either consume 50 grams of dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), dark chocolate that had been melted and re-solidified, or white chocolate (0 percent cocoa) over a 15-day period.
Researchers monitored participants’ blood pressure, forearm skin blood flow, circulating lipid profiles, and blood glucose levels to test the effects that the flavanols contained in chocolate have on chronic inflammation, blood vessel health, and circulating lipid levels.
Although several large-scale human studies have documented a statistical correlation between flavanol intake and reduced cardiovascular disease risk, few controlled human intervention studies have been conducted to directly test the effect of chocolate consumption.
Compared to the group consuming white chocolate, study participants consuming either form of dark chocolate had lower blood glucose levels, lower levels of LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (or “good”) cholesterol. The researchers concluded that dark chocolate may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving glucose levels and lipid profiles. Heating the chocolate did not appear to affect its benefit.
Researchers believe white chocolate did not produce similar heart health benefits because it lacks the flavonols found in dark chocolate.
Previous research has also shown that milk may inhibit absorption of flavonols and other beneficial compounds found in chocolate. So keep that chocolate dark and dairy-free to optimize health benefits!
Despite the reported health benefits of dark chocolate, the researchers emphasized the importance of consuming it in moderation to avoid taking in excess calories and saturated fat. However, a 50 gram serving of dark chocolate (the amount consumed by study participants) should be enough to satisfy most palates!
The research team is now planning follow-up studies with a larger sample size and a longer period of chocolate consumption. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find study volunteers!
Image Credit: Chocolate Reviews/Flickr