UCSF scientists are publishing sweet results of a study examining chocolate’s effects on blood vessel function in healthy people. The team reports that small daily doses of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate consumed over a two-week period improved blood vessels’ ability to dilate, or expand. They also report that a particular flavonoid thought to be beneficial for blood vessel function, epicatechin, was absorbed at high levels in the blood.
"This is the longest clinical trial to date to show improvement in blood vessel function from consuming flavonoid-rich dark chocolate daily over an extended period of time," says lead author Mary Engler, PhD RN, professor of physiological nursing in the UCSF School of Nursing. "It is likely that the elevated blood levels of epicatechin triggered the release of active substances that vasodilate, or increase, blood flow in the artery. Better blood flow is good for your heart." The study appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Previous clinical studies have shown the beneficial effects of chocolate on the function of blood vessel endothelium [the inner lining of blood vessels] after either a single dose or several doses of chocolate over a few days.
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