Dark chocolate with olive oil is the ultimate good heart combo
Dark chocolate is good for us. We know this, because it has been linked to many benefits such as having a neuro-protective effect on our brain and improving heart and skeletal function.
We also know that a healthy diet helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and it’s the plant polyphenols that exert this protective effect on our body.
Plant polyphenols are also found on cocoa (dark chocolate), olive oil and apples.
Does that mean if we combined dark chocolate and olive oil or dark chocolate with apples, it will have an improved effect on our cardiovascular health?
To test this, Italian researchers from the University of Pisa conducted a randomised crossover study which includes 26 volunteers (14 men and 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors – smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers found that Italian Panaia red apple has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants and combined this with dark chocolate for this study.
The dark chocolate and olive oil combo was also associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol.
The participants received 40 grams of dark chocolate every day for 28 days. For 14 consecutive days it’s contained 10 per cent olive oil and for the other 14 days it was enriched with 2.5 per cent Panaia red apple.
The two types of chocolate were given in random order.
Urine and blood samples were collected at base line and again after intervention to assess the progression of atherosclerosis – build up of plaque inside the arteries.
Smoking status, body mass index, blood pressure, glycaemia and lipid profile were also monitored.
After 28 days, the researchers found that chocolate enriched with olive oil had a significant positive effect on atherosclerosis progression – with a significant increase in endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) levels. EPC is critical for vascular repair and for the regeneration of the endothelial lining of blood vessels.
The chocolate enriched with olive oil was also responsible for decreased carnitine and hippurate levels compared to both baseline and after consumption of apple-enriched chocolate.
The dark chocolate and olive oil combo was also associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol. Blood pressure was also decreased compared to baseline.
There was a decrease in triglyceride levels with apple-enriched chocolate but it was non-significant.
All these improvements to the cardiovascular risk profile was achieved with a small daily portion of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil.
Daily consumption of dark chocolate goes a long way in improving our heart health. But dark chocolate enriched with olive oil, which has also has cardio-protective benefits, is even better for our heart.
Source: European Society of Cardiology
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