A new study says that dark chocolate may improve blood flow to the legs and help those with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) walk longer and farther.
What is PAD, you ask? Peripheral Artery Disease is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the brain as well as other organs and limbs, according to Financial Express.
The study consisted of 20 patients (14 men and six women all between the age of 60 and 78) that suffer from PAD.
Those who participated in the study were asked to walk on a treadmill. Then they were fed either dark chocolate or milk chocolate and two hours later were asked to walk on the treadmill again. The amount of chocolate each person was given was about the same as an American chocolate bar (Hershey’s).
Each participant walked 2.2 miles per hour at a 12 percent grade. After eating the dark chocolate most walked on average 11 percent farther and 15 percent longer than they had in the first walk of the day. Distance and time did not improve at all after eating the milk chocolate.
Scientists believe that this is because dark chocolate’s cocoa content is 85 percent which makes it rich in polyphenols.
American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Mark Creager said in a news release that, “Other investigations have shown that polyphenols including those in dark chocolate may improve blood vessel function. But this study is extremely preliminary and I think everyone needs to be cautious when interpreting the findings.”
Chocolate adds calories to a person’s diet. The AHA says that men should not eat more than 150 calories in a day from added sugars (9 teaspoons) and women should not eat more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) from added sugar per day and five to six percent of calories should be from saturated fat.
A typical American chocolate bar, like the one eaten in the study, contains 94 calories from sugar (24 grams) and 8 grams of saturated fat.