Eating dark chocolate is good for the heart, a new small study confirmed.
Researchers conducted a study of 31 participants who were randomly assigned to eat a daily serving of 1.76 ounces (a chocolate bar is about 1.5 ounces) of either white chocolate, which contained no cocoa solids, regular dark chocolate that was 70 percent cocoa and dark chocolate that had been “bloomed” or melted and then hardened again, for 15 days.
Lead researcher Mee Young Hong, an associate professor of exercise and nutritional sciences at San Diego State University, and her team measured participants’ blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels before and after the study.
Afterwards researchers compared the three groups and found that those who ate dark chocolate had significantly higher levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and blood sugar levels compared to those who ate white chocolate.
However, researchers did not find any differences in blood pressure levels between participants who ate white chocolate to those who are dark chocolate.
Additionally, researchers noted that white chocolate consumption appeared to adversely slow down skin blood flow, a measure of how well the blood vessels are functioning, in participants.
The findings suggest that eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by improving glucose levels and lipid profiles.
However, Hong and her team warned that dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation because it can easily increase daily amounts of saturated fat and calories.
"We had great compliance with our study subjects because everybody wanted to eat chocolate. We actually had to tell them not to eat more than 50 grams a day," the study authors said in a news release.
The research findings will be presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting in San Diego, California.