Every time you indulge the notion to relax with a big chunk of dark chocolate, your arteries thank you. Because chocolate helps them relax, too. And that helps your heart stay healthier.
Researchers at the Top Institute Food and Nutrition and Wageningen University, Division of Human Nutrition in Wageningen, The Netherlands, have found that dark chocolate makes the arteries more flexible and discourages white blood cells from sticking to blood vessel walls.
Both of those factors can make you less susceptible to atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries.
“We provide a more complete picture of the impact of chocolate consumption in vascular health and show that increasing flavanol content (natural chemicals in chocolate) has no added beneficial effect on vascular health,” says Dutch researcher Diederik Esser, Ph.D. “However, this increased flavanol content clearly affected taste and thereby the motivation to eat these chocolates. So the dark side of chocolate is a healthy one.”
“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” says Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal.