Eating Dark Chocolate May Help Prevent Heart Problems
A Reuters Health article in the August 27, 2003 reports on research that demonstrates eating dark chocolate, although not milk chocolate, raises plasma antioxidant levels, an impact which could protect against heart disease. The newest study from the University of Glasgow, showed eating chocolate increases blood antioxidants but consuming milk together cancels the health benefits.
What exactly are antioxidants? They are compounds that combine with free radicals within the body and neutralize their damaging effects. What are free radicals? These are highly reactive molecules which are produced through normal body processes, in addition to external stimuli including air pollution and tobacco smoke. These free radicals react with vast amounts of cells within the body and may lead to the progression of numerous chronic diseases including cancer, cataracts and heart disease. There are numerous studies in the medical journals demonstrating the positive effects of antioxidants on large populations to diminish the regularity of new cancers along with decrease the recurrence rates in individuals who curently have cancer. Additionally, antioxidants have shown to possess a positive effect on the cardiovascular system by decreasing the heart attack rate. Volunteers in the University of Glasgow study received either plain (dark) chocolate or milk chocolate. Some were also given milk in the double-blind experiment. Then their antioxidant levels were tested. Blood analysis one-hour after dark chocolate was eaten revealed a tremendous increase in antioxidant levels. "Those volunteers who had dark chocolate had a 20 % boost in antioxidants in their plasma," said Alan Crozier, one of the research team. "But those who had milk chocolate, or milk with their dark chocolate, showed no increase in epicatechin plasma levels."