Older people who have trouble getting around because of poor blood flow to their legs may be able to walk a little longer and farther after eating dark chocolate, according to a new small Italian study reported on www.uk.reuters.com. People with peripheral artery disease (PAD) who ate a dark chocolate bar were able to slightly increase the time and distance they walked a couple of hours later, compared to people who ate milk chocolate, researchers found.
“Nutrients are key components of health and disease,” said Dr. Lorenzo Loffredo, the study’s lead author from Sapienza University in Rome.
He and his colleagues write in the Journal of the American Heart Association that compounds known at polyphenols, which are much more plentiful in dark chocolate than milk chocolate, may have something to do with the improved performance.
“In the context of atherosclerosis, following an appropriate diet is crucial for reducing the burden of vascular disease,” Loffredo wrote in an email. This study supports that idea, he said, as eating polyphenol-rich nutrients led to improved blood flow in the legs.
Dr. Thom Rooke, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said the effect on walking appeared to be small and may not be particularly noticeable to the average person. For example, he said eating dark chocolate would also add to the calories people are consuming.
Typically, people diagnosed with PAD are advised to change their behaviours, such as by cutting out smoking and eating a better diet, Rooke said. They’re also told to exercise and may be put on some medications. Surgery to bypass blocked arteries is typically a last resort.
“It’s really an impetus to change your lifestyle, see your physician and clean up your act so to speak,” he said.
Article taken in part from www.uk.reuters.com
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