chocolateWell, nobody needs a specific reason to eat chocolates but those with artery disease now get a good reason to have them. A research published in Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating dark chocolate may help people suffering from peripheral artery disease. The study involved people with artery problems in their legs and found that they could walk a little longer and farther after they ate dark chocolate. (Read: Dark chocolate keeps heart disease at bay!)

Study participants were tested on a treadmill in the morning and again two hours after eating 40 grams of dark and milk chocolate (about the size of an average American plain chocolate bar) on separate days. They had an increased ability to walk unassisted after eating dark chocolate, compared to when they ate milk chocolate. The levels of nitric oxide, a gas linked to improved blood flow, were also higher when participants ate dark chocolate. Other biochemical signs of oxidative stress were also lower. The study authors suggest that dark chocolate contains compounds called polyphenols that may reduce oxidative stress and improve blood flow in peripheral arteries. The dark chocolate used in the study had a cocoa content of more than 85 per cent, making it rich in polyphenols. The milk chocolate, with a cocoa content below 30 per cent, had far fewer polyphenols. (Read: How dark chocolate can help prevent diabetes)

The improvements were modest, but the benefit of dark chocolate polyphenols is ‘of potential relevance for the quality of life of these patients,’ said Lorenzo Loffredo, the study’s co-author and assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome in Italy. Based on these observations and other laboratory experiments, the authors suggest that the higher nitric oxide levels may be responsible for dilating peripheral arteries and improving walking independence. ‘Polyphenol-rich nutrients could represent a new therapeutic strategy to counteract cardiovascular complications,’ said, Francesco Violi, study senior author and professor of internal medicine at the Sapienza University. The researchers said the improvements linked to these compounds in dark chocolate need to be confirmed in a larger study involving long-term consumption. (Read: Revealed — Why dark chocolate is good for health)

PVD is also called peripheral artery disease (PAD) which means that it affects blood vessels carrying blood away from the heart to the extremities or the lower limbs. Like all other cardiovascular diseases, PVD can also be life-threatening but can be prevented. Here are some facts about the disease you should know.

What causes peripheral vascular disease?

Peripheral vascular disease is caused by narrowing or blockage of blood vessels supplying blood to the limbs due to deposition of fatty substances, cholesterol and other cellular waste on the walls of blood vessels to harden and form a plaque (also known as atherosclerosis). As a result, blood supply to the limbs is obstructed or reduced, making it difficult for the person to perform physical activities. Read more about Peripheral vascular disease – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

With inputs from ANI

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