Dark Chocolate Enriched With Virgin Olive Oil May Protect The Heart

Dark Chocolate Enriched With Virgin Olive Oil May Protect The Heart

Dark chocolate with added virgin olive oil may prove good for the heart. It may boost good cholesterol levels and protect the ‘repairing cells’ important for maintaining blood vessels, a new study suggests.

A balanced and wholesome diet minimizes the risk of heart disease. Fruits and vegetables, when incorporated in diet offer protection to the heart through plant polyphenols, which are present in natural sources like cocoa, olive oil, and apples. Italian Panaia red apple is believed to have very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants.

A group of researchers studied the effect of dark chocolate enriched with either extra virgin olive oil or Panaia red apple on fat build-up in the blood vessels in healthy individuals who had cardiovascular risk factors. The participants were given 40 grams of dark chocolate every day for 4 weeks.

For the first two weeks, the chocolate contained 10% extra virgin olive oil, while for the remaining days it contained 2.5% Panaia red apple. The order of giving chocolates was kept random. Urine and blood samples were obtained at baseline and after consumption of the chocolate. Advancement of atherosclerosis was evaluated by metabolic changes, lipid profile, blood pressure and circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), which are crucial for blood vessel repair.

At the end of the study, it was seen that chocolate enriched with olive oil resulted in remarkably higher EPC levels compared to both baseline and after intake of Panaia red apple-enriched chocolate. Moreover, the former also notably increased the concentrations of good cholesterol and reduced blood pressure compared to baseline.

Overall, dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols derived from extra virgin olive oil could preserve ‘repairing cells’ and was both protective and beneficial for the heart.

Source: University of Pisa, Italy

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