An original study reports that the consumption of dark chocolate in patients suffering from peripheral arterial disease has a favorable effect on walking abilities, while milk chocolate has no effect.
Cocoa is known to contain antioxidants, flavanols, which have shown some beneficial effects on blood circulation by promoting vasodilation.
Effects confirmed in a pilot study of people with peripheral arterial disease, a condition where reduced blood flow can cause pain, cramps or fatigue in the legs or hips when walking.
Tests conducted after eating different chocolates
The experiment concerns 20 people aged 60 to 78, who walked on a treadmill in the morning, then in the afternoon, two hours after eating either 40 g of dark chocolate (85% cocoa, rich in polyphenols), i.e. 40 g of milk chocolate (30% cocoa, less polyphenols).
Walk faster and longer
The results, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, show that with dark chocolate, patients walked an average of 11% faster and 15% longer, compared to earlier in the day. On the other hand, no improvement appeared after the ingestion of milk chocolate.
The authors also note an increase in nitric oxide (NO) levels after ingestion of dark chocolate, which, given its vasodilating effect, could explain the improvement in performance. But this is not enough to justify a “chocotherapy” in case of circulatory disorders!
Loffredo Dark chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy in patients with peripheral artery disease. J Am Heart Assoc. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.001072.