Dark Chocolate and Atherosclerosis
People are only now beginning to see the benefits of dark chocolate. Years ago, most thought of it as an indulgence that was a deficit to health, but we’re happy to say that this isn’t so, especially in the case of atherosclerosis.
Research suggests that atherosclerosis begins and progresses as a gradual inflammatory process. It normally involves years of chronic injury to the lining of the blood vessels. As the lining—or endothelial cells—is damaged, atherosclerotic plaques, or fatty deposits, are formed on the walls of the blood vessels. These plaques both impede the flow of blood and can rupture, leading to blood clots, which could precipitate a heart attack or stroke.
Now comes dark chocolate to the rescue. The polyphenols in dark chocolate act to relax the smooth muscle of the blood vessels. In addition, it seems that these polyphenols also inhibit the clotting of the blood.
In a 2001 study, volunteer subjects were given a commercial chocolate bar (Dove Dark) containing 148 mg of flavanols. The end result was that the volunteers showed reduced levels of inflammation and beneficial delays in blood clotting at two and six hours after ingesting the chocolate.
The best way to get dark chocolate into your life – for your health-is to eat just a small square or two daily. One hundred calories of dark chocolate is a tasty health-promoting strategy.