I’m always interested in the great debate about chocolate, should I or shouldn’t I?
Its been Jemma’s birthday in the office and she has chocolates so this question is very poignant for me right at this moment! I’ve been thinking GI and GL for my own benefit as much as anyone’s as I could do with losing a little weight, but I’ve just been handed a few squares of dark chocolate, and now I’m eating them thinking about how good these flavonoids are for me.
Honestly I’m not making this up! Small daily doses of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate eaten over a two-week period is thought to benefit blood vessels by helping them to dilate better.
Here’s the story – Scientists testing this out focused on epicatechin, a specific flavonoid that was absorbed at high levels in the blood, and found it to be particularly beneficial in blood vessel functions. Elevated levels of epicatechin trigger the release of active substances that increase blood flow through arteries and improve heart health. Chocolate has been shown in previous studies to improve the inner lining of blood vessels after just a single serving or several servings over a few days.
Dark chocolate has a lot of flavonoids, chemical compounds with antioxidant properties found in a variety of plants, which have been shown to have a number of cardiovascular benefits, including decreasing bad LDL cholesterol and inhibiting the aggregation of blood platelets that contribute to blood clots that produce heart attacks and strokes – get that!
The scientists mentioned above carried out a double-blind study in which 11 of 21 patients received 1.6 ounces of flavonoid-rich chocolate every day for two weeks. The rest ate chocolate with low flavonoid content. At the end of the trial, those who had eaten flavonoid-rich chocolate had a better reading of flow-mediated dilation, a marker for determining heart disease risks, than those who didn’t. Researchers also determined that concentrations of the cocoa flavonoid epicatechin rose significantly in blood samples taken from those who received the high flavanoid chocolate. Interestingly, the blood cholesterol levels in study participants didn’t increase in either group.
Dark chocolate has been found to have more flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine and black and green teas.
The study also suggested that eating chocolate with at least a 70 percent cocoa content, in moderation, can be beneficial in conjunction with exercise and a healthy diet. So don’t overdo it, I promise I won’t. All eaten now, so back to my GL plan for lunch.
Dr Mercola will back me up too, and he was perhaps more skeptical than me to begin with.