News / Health

Dark Chocolate Reaps Heart-Healthy Benefits

FILE - A chocolate factory worker.
FILE - A chocolate factory worker.
Jessica Berman
Researchers have known for some time that chocolate - especially dark chocolate - is good for the heart.  Now,  they know why.

Besides tasting good, researchers found dark chocolate is protective against heart disease in two ways; it restores flexibility to stiffening arteries and prevents white blood cells from sticking to the insides of blood vessel walls.  Both conditions can lead to the formation of plaque, which blocks arteries, causing heart disease.

The findings were made by Dutch researchers in a study of 44 middle-aged, overweight men who ate 70 grams of both dark and milk chocolate per day over two periods of four weeks.

The heart healthy substance in chocolate is an organic compound called flavanol. Flavanols are also found in vegetables, fruits and green tea.

Gerald Weissmann is editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal, which published the study.  

He says researchers discovered that there’s something about the flavanols in dark chocolate that makes people prefer it to milk chocolate.

“In this controlled study, the first time it’s ever been done, they gave the same amount of flavanol in dark chocolate and regular chocolate.  And lo and behold, the men didn’t have different amounts of flavanols in the diet.  But they ate more of the dark chocolate one because they liked it better," said Weissmann.

Researchers evaluated the men’s preference for dark chocolate by asking them to rate its sensory properties including smell and taste. Again, Gerald Weissmann.

“So, the taste component or psychological component of dark chocolate improved, number one, the elasticity and response of the arteries to blood flow, number two, the way that neutrophils - white cells - stick to the lining of blood vessels and number three, markers of inflammation," he said.

And knowing it was heart healthy seemed to make the men felt less guilty about indulging their sweet tooth.  

Researchers may someday develop a therapy that has the same health benefits as dark chocolate. But even if they do, eating a bar of dark chocolate will still be more enjoyable.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid