Researchers at the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have discovered that eating dark chocolate can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, which is a hardening and thickening of the arteries. It turns out that dark chocolate – in moderation – can restore the flexibility of arteries and stop white blood cells from adhering to the blood vessel walls.
The study was conducted over 4 weeks on 44 overweight men between 45 an 70 years old. The men had to eat 70 grams of normal dark chocolate or 70 grams of dark chocolate fortified with high levels of flavanol – an antioxidant found in cocoa plants.
The researchers wanted to determine if the flavanol stimulated the mens’ senses, motivating them to eat more chocolate. While the addition of flavanol did increase the consumption of chocolate by the men in the study, both types of dark chocolate produced similar heart benefits.
This result is significant because it contradicts previous research that suggested flavanol, which is also found in wine and berries, is the primary reason that dark chocolate is good for your heart. It appears that dark chocolate can be good for you in moderation, and the fact that flavanol makes you want to eat more of it is a nice side benefit.