Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play significant roles in atherosclerosis.
Diederik Esser, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and colleagues followed 44 overweight middle-aged men over two periods of four weeks as they ate 70 grams of chocolate per day.
The subjects got either specially produced dark chocolate that had a high flavonol content or regularly produced chocolate. Both chocolates had a similar cocoa mass content. Before and after both test periods, the researchers performed a variety of measurements that are important indicators of vascular health.
They observed that dark chocolate helped restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Submitted the authors, “Chocolate affects endothelial health by…[improving] vascular function [and lowering] the adherence capacity of leukocytes in the circulation.”
Esser, D., et al. (2014). Dark chocolate consumption improves leukocyte adhesion factors and vascular function in overweight men. FASEB J. 28(3):1464-73.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
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