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Study: dark chocolate may aid people with PAD walk

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The Boston Globe reported on Thursday that a study released by an Italian group this week indicates that dark chocolate may help those with peripheral artery disease (PAD) walk. Dark chocolate has long been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to compounds called polyphenols.

Polyphenols occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables, teas, wines and some nuts. They are an antioxidant that can have many health benefits, including aiding with blood flow. The main benefit studied by this research was the effect on people with PAD.

PAD is a common problem in which arterial blood flow is restricted to the limbs and extremities. This can make walking painful and difficult for those who suffer with the disease. Finding a way to make walking more possible in an inexpensive and simple way would be a major breakthrough.

The study compared 40 participants’ ability to walk on a treadmill after being given one of two different types of chocolate. Half were given dark chocolate, containing 85 percent chocolate, the other half milk chocolate that contained about 35 percent chocolate.

"After eating the dark chocolate, [the participants] walked an average 11 percent farther," study author Lorenzo Loffredo of Sapienza University of Rome told NPR in an email. “Conversely, we did not observe effects on blood flow and on walking autonomy in PAD patients after milk chocolate consumption." He also mentioned that the results were surprising.

The results, while encouraging, are still preliminary and more tests may be required to confirm the results. But chocolate has been shown in several other studies to have other health benefits as well.

So chow down on that chocolate, as the only major concern with eating chocolate is the large amount of sugar many types contain. Well, that and the fact that an estimated 70 percent of chocolate comes from slavery.

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